Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Downfall of an SEIU Boss

PickettingHow does a union boss lose power? Contrary to the claims of union supporters, this only rarely happens by the electoral action of membership. (Union internal elections are so problematic that the federal government had to enter voluntary compliance agreements with 24 unions that had to re-run their elections in 2015 because of irregularities—and that only scratches the surface of union officers manipulating the election system to make keeping their jobs easier.) Instead, corruption, personal hubris or other individual failings are generally the quickest way to end your union career prematurely.

Consider the story of Dave Regan, President of Service Employees International Union United Health Workers-West (SEIU-UHW) and a Vice President of the national SEIU.

Once a key ally of then-SEIU President Andy Stern appointed to subdue rebellious leadership and rank-and-file members in SEIU-UHW, Regan is now desperately fighting an expensive battle with current President Mary Kay Henry for influence and power. Some had suspected that Regan intended to challenge Henry for SEIU national president. Now, thanks to his own impetuousness and Henry placing a bunch of his members under the control of her allies, that dream looks likely to die.

Adding to his troubles, Regan is also accused of assaulting a process server in his home state of California, according to CBS San Francisco. CBS reports:

Dave Regan is accused of pushing a process server down the steps of his Kensington home, refusing to be served legal documents in a dispute with the California Hospital Association.


Police say the server was injured and had to have medical treatment.


When police got to Regan’s home, they said he was aggressive and tried to intimidate the officer.

Police referred the matter to the District Attorney to determine if charges should be filed. It’s not the first time Regan has been associated with violent behavior. A demonstration he led in 2008 against a trade unionist group honoring the head of the California Nurses Association resulted in fights that John Sweeney, then-head of the AFL-CIO, called “a violent attack.”

If Regan goes down for his allegedly violent temperament or for coming at SEIU’s chief and missing, he should at least count his blessings that it’s not ending in legal trouble. SEIU Vice President Dana Cope pleaded guilty to charges related to his theft of over $500,000 in local union funds in November, placing him in the less-than-distinguished company of such SEIU financial miscreants as Tyrone Freeman, Janett Humphries, and John McMahon.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEmployee Rights ActSEIUUnion Spending