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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Raising the Bar

Re: “Let Them Eat Cake

It *amazes* me, as a unionmember and a member of contract negotiation teams, that BART management hasn't been named in an Unfair Labor Practice suit. It's a violation of labor law to introduce new, previously-unknown contractual issues that were not explicitly made a part of bargaining from the beginning of the process. To throw in significant changes in workplace conditions as management did, at the very END of negotiation--and then make the negotiated contract completely dependent on those new workplace conditions--is a violation of law as well as of trust and fairness.

35 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Joshua Summit on 10/30/2013 at 12:14 PM

Re: “Let Them Eat Cake

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

8 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 10/30/2013 at 11:27 AM

Re: “Let Them Eat Cake

"There was a fury for sure, but it was coming from these editorialists and their big business allies, not the general population."

I like and agree with this article in general, but this seems off base. The negativity about the workers may have had its origins with editorialists and big business, but it certainly worked on the general population. I had plenty of friends who would generally be union supporters parroting bullshit, anti-union talking points.

4 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Shannon Hubbel on 10/30/2013 at 11:14 AM

Re: “Let Them Eat Cake

This editorial is such pablum I don't know where to begin. Even as a leftist, I found BART's demands silly and outrageous. The idea that pay stubs need to be hand delivered contributed in part to the last strike felt like the final straw. Many of us here in the Bay Area make our livings on innovation, making things more efficient and thinking differently. So I was deeply saddened to see that hundreds of thousands of people are held hostage by BART so that workers can cling to standards set decades ago. Maybe I'm just jealous that I can't bring an entire megalopolis to its knees if I decided to strike at my job. While I strongly support paying workers living wages, I am far, far more sympathetic to WalMart and McDonalds workers that are being subsidized by our tax dollars than BART workers. These past standoffs have made a mockery of the entire role of public transit and I will happily back any referendum that prevents such strikes form occurring again.

24 likes, 54 dislikes
Posted by Bob Mulrooney on 10/30/2013 at 10:26 AM

Re: “Let Them Eat Cake

Appreciate the calling out and naming names. Shows more guts and integrity than I am accustomed to in the media these days.

34 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Gordon Baker on 10/30/2013 at 10:21 AM

Re: “Let Them Eat Cake

Thanks for this. The corrosive language used to talk about worker struggle has been developed with the help of a lot of time and money in corporate think tanks, more articles like this are needed to restructure the dialogue in the United States about labor rights.

46 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Caitlin Donohue on 10/30/2013 at 9:09 AM

Re: “Let Them Eat Cake

A friend shared this with me on Facebook, and here was my response: "Amen! This editorial hits so many nails dead on the head! The whole notion that the BART employees were somehow asking for unreasonable favors in merely wanting their salaries to keep up with inflation, and barely, is offensive. All the folks who thought the BART unions were unreasonable simply decided to succumb to jealousy and forgot to advocate for their own basic worker rights. Jay Youngdahl is absolutely right: the media coverage of the BART strike preyed on people's envy, purposely distorted the facts, and betrayed a loss of consciousness of labor struggles. Thanks for sharing! [Oh, and by the way, all the folks who were upset over the disruption of public transit clearly don't understand the purpose and function of a strike--and I say that as someone who was very much affected by the disruption of public transit. I work a low-wage job that requires me to get to it on time early in the morning, including on weekends, and I don't drive. It was difficult and challenging, and I still supported the unions through all of it.]"

53 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Ore Carmi on 10/30/2013 at 12:29 AM

Re: “Big Business Wants to Hide Political Contributions

I would take a corporate lawyer to their face and obliterate their business for being so idiotic ruining the American way we were built upon.

Posted by Phillius Thomas on 09/26/2013 at 7:48 AM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

“Ryan Martin” you are entitled to your own opinion but NOT to your own facts. In addition, your comments would have more credibility if you use your real name as opposed to a fictitious one and if you focused on facts as opposed to name-calling and personal attacks.

On your first paragraph, you contradicted yourself by stating, “we didn't make GM cars. We made Corollas and Tacomas and the Pontiac Vibe (25% at its height)” GM owned the Pontiac brand, therefore, we DID built GM vehicles, according to your math, 25% of NUMMI’s production. (contradiction.....!!)

But lets focus on the subject being discussed on this post as opposed to your own agenda. The comparison of the auto industry and NUMMI to healthcare and Kaiser should be explored.

In the mid 1990s, NUMMI entered a different business practice. The contract started changing and at each bargaining year there were more concessions being made by the union. The employer’s attempt to do more with less intensified. Temporary workers were introduced on 2003; this meant that labor with no benefits, raises, or seniority replaced the conventional 90-day provisionary period for a benefitted employee. Attendance policy became extremely strict and it terminated more seniority employees than any other issue in the facility……. (Sounds familiar?)

What did the union do? We focused 90% of our resources on representation. Year after year at the bargaining table, being faced with a challenging business climate and rising cost of healthcare, we took steps backwards for fear of losing jobs. On 2008, NUMMI had beaten every record in the industry by producing more vehicles with less people than any other auto plant in the nation. The vehicles we built had the best quality and were in higher demand than most vehicles in the world. Toyota was making record profits and was expanding; then 2009 and the Housing Bubble came, GM and Chrysler were seeking Federal aid in order to prevent bankruptcy. Toyota stopped production in some of their plants for the first time in history, and Ford was on the verge of financial ruins as well.

The UAW negotiated a deal with GM and Chrysler over the retirement plans in which the UAW became part owner of the companies with 17.5% ownership of GM, and 55% ownership of Chrysler. However, this deal did not stopped plant closures or a two-tier wage system negotiated on 2011 by the UAW. In addition, the UAW continues to drop in membership to an alarming rate.

The lessons I learned in my tenure with the UAW and the NUMMI plant closure are that the world can change in one second, and that unions are not truly representing its membership well if they continue to show up at the bargaining table with no ideas or solutions to the challenges of tomorrow. Calling the employer names and pointing at record profits did not work for the UAW and it’s not working for other unions throughout the Nation.

On June 4th 2013, SEIU-UHW will be mobilizing 10 thousand people to the state capital to rally against a one billion dollar in cuts to Medical. These cuts affect working families, low-income Californians, Hospital Administrators, Healthcare workers, Insures, etc. While Kaiser and other Healthcare giants are affected by these cuts, they’re unable to mobilize thousands of people like we are, thus stopping the cuts from materializing. It is these actions we are taking that generate strength to our union, political power, and results at the bargaining table.

It is shameful that NUHW and CNA spent over 10 million dollars in a second failed attempt to destroy the best contract in the industry while they could have focused on organizing the unorganized or fighting cuts to Medical. It is a shame that NUHW calls itself “the workers” union while NUHW and CNA are doing nothing to prevent cuts to Medical. Who are they really looking out for……?????

Ryan Martin, or whatever your name is, if you really care about labor and working families, join me on June 4 to stop cuts to Medical………..

10 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Juan Castillo on 05/20/2013 at 11:21 PM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

Juan Castillo used to be a union rep for UAW Local 2244 at NUMMI where he worked with management to shut down NUMMI with a pack of lies. The main lie used to justify shutting down NUMMI was the pullout of GM which somehow caused a financial strain. That was not true because we didn't make GM cars. We made Corollas and Tacomas and the Pontiac Vibe (25% at its height). GM made little from the sale of the Vibe because it was a rebadged Toyota Matrix. GM didn't get to keep all the profits. The vast majority of revenue came from Toyota production. The GM lie was nothing more than a red herring.

Juan Castillo was also a part of the union busting crew who started a riot at the union hall , videotaped it and spread that across the union busting milieu in the U.S. to frame union workers as "thugs". It's still on You Tube. The whole "riot" was nothing more than a fabricated provocation. People still have flyers from Juan promoting that day with incendiary language designed to provoke anger against the union instead of Toyota.

FYI: Toyota had $39 billion when they announced the shutdown of NUMMI

The lies from Toyota was spread through Juan's newsletter called "Autoworkers News". Juan's newsletter replaced the legitimate workers newsletter called "The Barking Dog" after Caroline Lund passed away. Workers simply assumed "Autoworkers News" was legit and believed the lies from a pro-Reagan anti-union mole. Juan's cheesy website is still up, but the incriminating articles have been taken down to give the impression of just another loyal union rep.

Juan Castillo is still on You Tube in interviews by "laborvideo" where he is quoted as calling the UAW a "business" and spreading the lies about GM.

Juan Castillo lied then and he lies now. Ignore his position as a union rep. He's a union buster.

Either SEIU-UHW was ignorant of who they were hiring; or worse, SEIU-UHW knew of his past collaboration with Toyota management and hired the right guy for the job.

5 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Ryan Martin on 05/16/2013 at 8:41 PM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

If Kaiser members were persuaded by CNA/NUHW's claim that SEIU-UHW is moving forward as a Union which does the bosses' bidding, and if their readings of the plain language of their last two contracts have been full of concessions, then our Kaiser Service and Tech members would not have turned out to vote to ratify the contracts in record numbers, and they would have voted to leave SEIU. They did not. They are simply unpersuaded by NUHW's "facts".

Before I came on as a staff member of SEIU-UHW, I was a rank-and-file member at Eden Medical Center, where I worked for 25 years and organized my Clerical residual unit into the Union. The training and development I gained as a trade Unionist under the Rosselli-led Local was tremendous. The people leading NUHW are skilled organizers and they wish to help workers. I have zero doubt about that.

Unfortunately, they have lost their perspective and vision. Organizing the organized will not move the labor movement forward. The vast majority of health care workers at hospitals and convalescents in California have no Union. Those caregivers need organizing help to increase their compensation and advocate for better patient care quality and safer working conditions. For these workers, CNA-NUHW has very few answers.

The vast, vast majority of NUHW's organizing has been in attempts to raid SEIU health care worker bargaining units in California. They have attempted to take members from multiple SEIU public sector Unions in addition to their lengthy battles with caregivers represented by UHW. These fights have borne little fruit, and NUHW has not achieved higher standards in the contracts they have managed to settle. And, of course, they have been in negotiations with Kaiser for many years and have been unable to negotiate a contract for any of their bargaining units.

I'm glad that the current SEIU International leadership has steered away from the strategies at the end of Andy Stern's leadership, most notably ending the attempt to organize Unite HERE members and keeping UHW Homecare workers in their Union. The current elected SEIU-UHW President, Dave Regan, was among the International Executive Board members who organized against Anna Berger, Stern's preferred successor, and helped elect Mary Kay Henry as the current SEIU International President.

I think of the leaders who came up with a brilliant set of strategies to win our Sutter Health fights, facility by facility, in 2005 and 2006. I have been sorely disappointed by the direction they have taken their supporters since that time.

22 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Douglas Jones on 05/11/2013 at 4:50 PM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

NUHW supporters are in denial and it's time to stop. Two election; two defeats::::::please accept it; Kaiser members spoke and Democracy must prevail.

The labor movement is dying and the world is changing. If it really is about working families, then focus your energy on that. Regardless on how evil NUHW supporters think SEIU is, the facts are that the Kaiser SEIU contract protects working families well; with respectable wages, benefits, and a 52 weeks of income security that no one outside of that contract has, including NUHW or CNA....

Start focusing on the economy, unemployment, National Debt, the rising cost of Healthcare, the competition, and the fact that only 9% of American families have a retirement plan. That's the fight that labor needs to fight.... Not each other....

If Kaiser workers don't wake up soon, the world around them will change their lives just like the American Autoworkers' lives changed while their union was focusing on being militant and fighting "the boss", and in the end, their lack of vision for the future, and understanding of the world around them, was the root cause that failed to protect the contracts that brought Blue Collar workers to the middle class of American society........ Wake up!!

23 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Juan Castillo on 05/11/2013 at 8:02 AM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

So, Doug, I guess being a political organizer for SEIU, you kinda have to say the things you do in your post. There are many facts that contradict your statements, but I will not bother to challenge you with facts enumerate them, they are available on the NUHW web site and It would be futile to discuss the facts with someone so obviously wedded to SEIU, because SEIU's modus operandi seems to be to distort facts. There are takeaways built into the recently "ratified" Service & Tech group's contract. None of the S&T members I know was even notified of an opportunity to "ratify" the contract. In fact, to get a copy of the contract (actually a summary - the members don't even get a copy of the actual full contract) people were required to sign a card stating that they would vote for SEIU in the election. Does that sound like democracy? One of the clauses in the contract actually allows the employer to change any aspect of the contract unilaterally and at will. Does that sound like protection? As for SEIU's motivation to create a weak contract? They want to be the boss's friend, so that they are assured lots and lots of members (and lots and lots of dues money). That is why we decertified and went with NUHW.

6 likes, 24 dislikes
Posted by Adam Front on 05/10/2013 at 9:48 PM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop


"SEIU did what amounts to a hostile takeover when it put the local in trusteeship, and the leaders who were erroneously charged with malfeasance and thrown out formed NUHW."

Erroneously charged with malfeasance? Then why was there a civil judgement of $1.5 million for SEIU against NUHW and more than a dozen NUHW leaders which has been sustained on appeal?

"NUHW is the Kaiser workers old union, reconstituted after a hostile takeover,...".

I thought NUHW claimed that members are the Union, not the staff representatives. Were SEIU-UHW members, Kaiser and non-Kaiser, responsible for building the best contract for health care workers, or was it all Sal and Pals? If it was all Sal and his team, then how does that meet with the claim that it's all about the members?

"...the trustees, who are now the leadership under SEIU,...".

The leadership elected by the members, you mean? The leadership elected with a much higher voter turnout than was ever managed for a leadership election in the Rosselli Era? The leadership with an Executive Board made up of 300 members and NO staff, unlike the E-Board under Rosselli which was a fraction of the size and was dominated by powerful staff members? That leadership?

"SEIU, who will make contract concessions to Kaiser at the expense of its own members....".

Yes, the prediction of "contract concessions" that NUHW leaders have made since 2009, two contract negotiations ago, negotiations led by the largest Kaiser SEIU-UHW member bargaining team ever (much, much larger than the Rosselli-era bargaining teams), which maintained contracts with industry-leading wage, benefit and job security standards and were ratified by supreme majorities with higher voter turnout than ever before.

First, Kaiser SEIU-UHW members disagree that they have suffered great concessions in their last two contracts; their enthusiastic ratification votes prove it.

Second, and I mean this seriously, what would be the motivation of the current SEIU-UHW leaders to create "secret concessions" now and in the future? Explain to us why you think they would do that, and, if they were planning on doing so, why they participated in the creation of new SEIU-UHW bylaws which established a much larger membership presence among top leaders? If they wanted to give away the store, why would they set themselves up to be watched so closely?

27 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by Douglas Jones on 05/10/2013 at 6:43 PM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

Soooooo Mr. Jay Youngdahl, I understand your cousin is Jon Youngdahl, the Executive Director of SEIU California State Council - their chief lobbyist! There goes whatever credibility you had as a journalist... And to think, I used to enjoy East Bay Express...

14 likes, 24 dislikes
Posted by Zelly Lodin on 05/09/2013 at 12:39 PM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 05/09/2013 at 12:28 PM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

NUHW suporters: Please take note of the astute conclusions of author Jay Youngdahl: "The argument that the workers were too scared to vote for NUHW-CNA was condescending and paternalistic when made by NUHW supporters to explain their 2010 defeat. And one cannot credibly claim that, with the backing and money of the militant and committed this time around, Kaiser workers were again mousy and scared." Because that is exactly what you are continuing to do. Please stop insulting the workers that you claim to care so much about--if you don't respect the folks you want to represent, you probably shouldn't be the ones representing them...

23 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by Sherry Minson on 05/09/2013 at 11:34 AM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. Unions destroyed the auto industry, have bankrupted local and state governments, and now they're working on the federal government.

4 likes, 32 dislikes
Posted by Thomas Collins on 05/09/2013 at 6:19 AM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

I remember in my life time when Journalists had integrity and actually reported the facts without bias. That is also when they remained respected. It is clear that you don't have any idea what you are talking about. You look ridiculously ignorant. I do have to say though at least I am allowed exercise my First Amendment rights on this post. It was clear to "we the people" at the Federal Building in Oakland that we had no rights. We were INFORMED that our First Amendment Rights at the Federal Building did not apply. Oh yes, that was after they referred to us as "red shirts" but before Home Land Security showed up. Funny, I think that my name is Christina and that I am an American tax paying citizen. At what point in the game did it become acceptable in the Labor Movement in America for your "union" to become the "man." Isn't that why unions were formed in the first place? To protect the workers from the "man?" I guess that when you have enough money you can buy anything in America even your union and the entire time they are throwing their dues paying members under the bus. They only thing that I can possibly think that is lower than a union "buster" is a union that has a "price" and that has clearly been met here.

15 likes, 29 dislikes
Posted by Christina Meschnark Schofield on 05/09/2013 at 12:49 AM

Re: “It's Time for the Union Fighting to Stop

I'm sorry, but this article misconstrues everything that's actually going on at ground zero in these Kaiser facilities. Jay, I implore you to ACTUALLY GO INTO A FEW FACILITIES AND TALK TO THE WORKERS YOURSELF. This is the umpteenth journalist that's written on this issue without actually having talked to workers (or at the most they'll simply obtain one quote from either side to 'get a balanced story').

You should be ashamed for how you framed this issue. The first time around, NUHW was barely even allowed into the hospital and yet SEIU had access to regular staff meetings to preach their gospel - that doesn't constitute a fair election according to the NLRA! The second election was not much different either: Kaiser called the police on NUHW, SEIU called Kaiser security regularly to eject NUHW from the facility, and SEIU harassed workers and NUHW staff at each and every Kaiser site. The funny thing is that many hospitals, workers still refuse to accept SEIU'S representation, now that they recognize who they really are: management's lap dog. When a union bullies its own member and threatens to report them to management (and often does report them), it ceases to be a union. I'm sorry, but I think calling them a mafia would be a better characterization.

Lastly, before you call CNA the 'loser' here, I must once again ask that you actually make the effort to step into one of these hospitals before you write this BS. The nurses have a newfound camaraderie with their co-workers, which is more essential than any union label or brand. In fact, because of the affiliation, many of the workers have learned more about their rights under the NLRA and how to approach a dispute with management from the RNs. One worker was going to receive punitive action for getting hurt on the job before an RN stepped in to help inform him of his rights - I thought that was the stewards job? There's a reason NUHW keeps coming back, they're for the workers by the workers. That's why there was hundreds of rank and file NUHW supporters out at the ballot count, but less than 40 paid SEIU stewards and staff - the rest of SEIU's paid staff was enjoying an-all expense paid trip to the Disneyland resort. And the dues went up recently...

24 likes, 30 dislikes
Posted by Zelly Lodin on 05/08/2013 at 10:24 AM

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