Tag Archives: SEIU

California bill would create health care price controls

government solve all problems

But, but…I thought Obamacare was suppose to reduce the cost of health care?

From Sacramento Bee: California’s government would set prices for hospital stays, doctor visits and other health care services under legislation introduced Monday, vastly remaking the industry in a bid to lower health care costs.

The proposal, which drew swift opposition from the health care industry, comes amid a fierce debate in California as activists on the left push aggressively for a system that would provide government-funded insurance for everyone in the state.

Across the country, rising health care costs have put the industry, lawmaker and employers and consumers at odds.

The proposal in California would affect private health plans, including those offered by employers and purchased by individuals. A nine-member commission appointed by the governor and legislative leaders would set prices for everything from a physical exam to an allergy test to heart bypass surgery. No other state has such a requirement.

“If we do not act now, I’m concerned that health care prices will become unsustainable,” Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a freshman Democrat from San Jose who wrote the legislation, said in a news conference in Sacramento.

The measure faces an uphill battle in the Legislature, where lawmakers are generally cautious about making drastic changes to the health care system and are already juggling a wide range of ambitious proposals.

The proposal is backed by influential unions including the Service Employees International Union, Unite Here and the Teamsters. The unions are frustrated that health care costs are gobbling an increasing share of employee compensation.

“Every dollar that we spend on rising health care prices is a dollar that comes out of a worker’s pocket,” said Sara Flocks, policy coordinator for the California Labor Federation, a union coalition. “This is something that is eating up our wages and it is increasing income inequality. This is a fundamental question of fairness.

Health care providers say price controls would encourage doctors to move out of state or retire, making it harder for people to see a physician when they’re sick, and force hospitals to lay off staff or, in some cases, close their doors.

The California Medical Association, which represents physicians, called the proposal “radical” and warned that it would reduce choices for consumers.

“No state in America has ever attempted such an unproven policy of inflexible, government-managed price caps across every health care service,” Dr. Theodore Mazer, the CMA president, said in a statement.

Under Kalra’s bill, prices would be tied to Medicare’s rate for a particular service or procedure, with that price as a floor. There would be a process for doctors or hospitals to argue that their unique circumstances warrant payments higher than the state’s standard rate.

Paying hospitals 125 percent of Medicare’s rate would cut $18 billion in revenue and force them to trim nurses and other support staff, said Dietmar Grellman, senior vice president of the California Hospital Association. Private insurers make up for the low payments from government-funded health care, which doesn’t cover the full cost of care, he said.

“That’s why their bill is such an empty promise,” Grellman said. “They take money out of the system with rate regulation, but then they don’t address the huge gaping hole that’s created by Medicare and Medicaid.”

In recent decades health care spending has risen faster than inflation and wages while employers and health plans have shifted more of the costs onto consumers through higher premiums, deductibles and copays. Americans spend more per capita on health care than other developed countries.

Meanwhile, a wave of consolidation by hospitals, physician groups and insurance companies has given industry players more power to demand higher rates.

DCG

Feinstein loses California Demorat Party’s endorsement

feinstein

More delegates voted for Kevin de Leon, the State Senate’s current President pro tempore. More about de Leon:

In December 2016 (after the death of Kate Steinle), de Leon proposed a bill that would prohibit state and local law enforcement, including school police and security departments, from using their resources for immigration enforcement. From my post:

Senate Bill 54 would also create “safe zones” at public schools, hospitals and courthouses where immigrant enforcement would be banned, and require state agencies to update their confidentiality policies so that information on individuals’ immigration status is not shared for enforcement purposes.

“To the millions of undocumented residents illegal aliens pursuing and contributing to the California dream, the state of California will be your wall of justice should the incoming administration adopt an inhumane and overreaching mass-deportation policy,” de León said in a statement. “We will not stand by and let the federal government use our state and local agencies to separate mothers from their children.”

In July 2015, de Leon was caught on film making a racist comment. From Dr. Eowyn’s post:

“The WND reports, June 3, 2015, that an independent undercover journalist has secretly filmed Democrats being racist about blacks.

The undercover video (posted by Ryan Sorba), dated May 2, 2015, is posted at Barbwire.com. It captures Democrats and homosexual activists calling conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Oreo cookie” (black on the outside, white on the inside) or race traitor, who doesn’t know he’s black.

He (Sorba) turns to California State Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon and asks: “On the question of the marriage issue, if we use watermelon, can we get Thomas to side with us on one case?”

De Leon laughs hysterically and turns to another man: “Hey, John, he’s got a good question right here!”

De Leon’s web site, which claims he is a “progressive voice for California,” touts his achievement/plans for California:

  • In 2016, Senator de León championed the “No Place Like Home” initiative, an innovative and ambitious proposal to address homelessness in California by securing $2 billion in bond financing for construction and rehabilitation of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless Californians suffering from mental illness. (How’s that initiative working out, de Leon?)
  • With President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, Senator de León was instrumental in negotiating $30 million to assist the nearly 250,000 Dreamers in California with legal services as well as “safety net” funding to help DACA students stay in school should they become unable to work to support their education.
  • Guided by a strong belief in a woman’s right to control her own health care, Senator de León has been stalwart defender for preserving federal funding for family planning as a Republican-led Congress continues to target Planned Parenthood for defunding.  Senator de León’s strong and unwavering advocacy for access and choice has been recognized by Planned Parenthood with a consistent 100 percent voting record and numerous awards, with special recognition in 2014 for legislative leadership.

Good luck thriving California, if de Leon wins.

From Stars and Stripes: California Democrats rebuked Sen. Dianne Feinstein at their annual convention this weekend, denying her the party’s endorsement in this year’s Senate race and giving a majority of their votes to her liberal primary challenger.

Just 37 percent of delegates to the statewide convention, held this year in San Diego, backed Feinstein in her bid for a fifth full term. More than 54 percent backed state Sen. Kevin de León, who entered the race in October and has run to Feinstein’s left on health care, taxes and immigration. Candidates needed 60 percent of the vote to win the party’s endorsement, making Feinstein the first incumbent senator in recent memory who will run in June’s primary without official backing.

“California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines,” de León said Sunday morning in a statement. “We all deserve a leader who will take our climate action to Washington, and will fight each and every day to protect our human and civil rights, our immigrant families and Dreamers, champion universal healthcare and create good paying middle class jobs.”

Losing at the party’s convention does not stop any candidate from fighting to win in the primary. In 1990, as a candidate for governor of California, Feinstein was denied the party’s endorsement at the convention, in part due to her support for the death penalty. She went on to win the nomination, losing in November to Republican Pete Wilson.

Until Sunday morning, de León had little evidence that his challenge to Feinstein could succeed. The senator entered the year with more than $9.8 million in campaign funds; de León had just $359,261. A February poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found her leading de León by 29 points, albeit with 37 percent of voters undecided. And Feinstein, who since the start of her political career in San Francisco had crossed swords with her party’s left, had voted with the left of her Democratic caucus on issues around the status of immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children.

De León’s strong showing at the convention changed the narrative, demonstrating the trouble that Feinstein — who turns 85 this summer — will face in persuading a changing party to get behind her. The state senator has won the backing of more left-leaning unions, such as the SEIU and the California Nurses Association, and attacked Feinstein for conservative votes she cast after arriving in the Senate in 1993. (She is one of just four Democrats still in the Senate who voted for the Iraq War.)

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

California state payroll increased by $1 billion in 2017, twice as fast as previous year

Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown is surrounded by unidentified SEIU workers after signing a bill creating the highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

No wonder the state wants half of the businesses’ tax-cut savings. Someone’s gotta fund the bureaucrats.

From Sacrament Bee: California’s state payroll – excluding its universities – grew by more than $1 billion last year, twice the rate of growth as the previous year, according to new figures from the State Controller’s Office.

The 6 percent growth rate was not unexpected. More than half of the state’s workforce voted on labor agreements early last year that included substantial pay raises. Money for the raises was included in the 2017-18 state budget.

The largest contract, for Service Employees Union Local 1000, included one-time bonuses of $2,500 for more than 95,000 state workers. That’s worth more than $235 million in total compensation for employees the union represents.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation saw payroll increase by $452 million, or 9 percent. The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection logged an $87 million, or 13 percent, increase in payroll as the state experienced a horrible wildfire season.

The Sacramento Bee’s state worker pay database has been updated with more than 250,000 civil service and California State University salaries for 2017. To search all state employee salaries, visit sacbee.com/statepay.

The number of state employees outside of universities earning more than $300,000 increased from 456 in 2016 to 709 in 2017, a rise of 56 percent. Those employees, however, still make up only a sliver of the state’s workforce.

Most of the highest-paid state workers outside of universities are doctors and dentists in the state prison system. The union for those doctors negotiated a pay hike of up to 24 percent over the next four years early last year. Prison health officials cited the difficulty of filling vacancies as a justification for the contract.

The highest-paid state worker outside of universities remains Ted Eliopoulos, chief investment officer of CalPERS. He earned about $867,000 last year, up from $768,000 in 2016.

CalPERS saw an 11.2 percent return on its investments in fiscal year 2017. That came as stock markets soared, with the S&P 500 increasing by 15.2 percent over the same period.

The state’s payroll fell during the recession a decade ago before stabilizing around 2012. It has risen since then.

Adjusted for inflation, California’s state payroll excluding universities was about 5 percent higher in 2017 than during 2008. The state’s population has grown about 9 percent over that period.

DCG

Corporate donors to Resist Trump movement & Antifa domestic terrorists

Joe Schoffstall reports, Oct. 4, 2017, that Washington Free Beacon obtained unredacted 2015 tax forms showing the hidden donors to a prominent anti-Trump “resistance” organization, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Community Change Action (CCCA).

CCCA does not reveal its donors. The organization has been involved in direct action against President Donald Trump and Republicans before and after last November’s elections. CCAA members sit on the boards of other prominent liberal activist groups.

The tax form obtained by Washington Beacon shows that Center for Community Change Action appears to rely heavily on a few major liberal foundations, organizations, and unions:

(1) The three largest donors are:

  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the source of CCCA’s largest contribution of $3 million. The foundation was created by Will Kellogg, the food manufacturer and founder of Kellogg Company.
  • Ford Foundation donated $2.35 million to CCCA. Created by the founders of the Ford Motor Company, the Ford Foundation is no longer connected to the Ford Motor Company but, inexplicably, retains the Ford name.
  • George Soros’ Open Society Foundation gave $1.75 million.

(2) Other donors include:

  • California Endowment, $524,500.
  • Marquerite Casey Foundation, $515,000.
  • Fidelity Charitable Gift, $505,100 (Fidelity itself did not donate, this figure reflects private individuals who used the company as a charitable vehicle for their own donations — whatever that means. A representative from Fidelity Charitable said the donations do not represent the views or endorsement of Fidelity Charitable or Fidelity Investments.)
  • National Immigration Law Center, $316,000.

(3) Donors to CCCA’s “social welfare” (c)(4) arm:

  • Every Citizen Counts, a nonprofit that was created by allies of Hillary Clinton to mobilize Latino and African-American voters, donated $1.75 million.
  • Soros’ Open Society Policy Center, $1.475 million.
  • Sixteen Thirty Fund, $610,000.
  • Center for Community Change, $150,000.
  • Services Employees International Union (SEIU), $150,000.
  • Atlantic Philanthropies, $75,000.
  • Tides Foundation, the largest liberal donor-advised network, donated $50,000.

Members of the anti-Trump CCCA also sit on the advisory boards of other prominent liberal and “resistance” organizations. Some examples:

  • Deepak Bhargava, CCCA’s executive director, sits on the advisory board of George Soros’s Open Society Foundation.
  • Charlene Sinclair, CCCNA’s director of reinvestment, sits on the board of directors of the Emergent Fund, which is aimed at pushing back against “immediate threats” to “immigrants, women, Muslim and Arab-American communities, black people, LGBTQ communities, and all people of color” — whatever that means. The fund consists of the Solidaire Network, the Threshold Foundation, and the Woman’s Donor Network. The Emergent Fund’s advisory board of members of prominent liberal organizations decides what organizations receive money from the group. Emergent Fund grants range from $10,000 to $50,000. Grant recipients include:
    • Black Lives Matter.
    • Center for Media Justice that was created to “organize the most under-represented communities in a national movement for media rights”.
    • Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative.
    • United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the United States which is behind “sanctuary campus” anti-Trump protests across the country to protect undocumented students. United We Dream was joined by CCCA in nationwide immigration protests leading up to Trump’s inauguration.

And the worst corporate donor to the Resist Trump movement?

Mozilla, the creator of the Firefox web browser.

The company has a program called Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS). On October 3, 2017, Mozilla announced that one of the MOSS awards is $100,000 to RiseUp, “a coordination platform used by activists across the political spectrum, to improve the security of their email service”.

RiseUp is a self-described “anti-capitalist” email server used by Antifa groups, as explained by the video below.

In an April 2016 FBI/DHS joint confidential report, the Obama administration designated Antifa as “domestic terrorists”.

That means Mozilla is actually funding and enabling domestic terrorists to email each other.

See also:

~Eowyn

Fear of Trump Triggers Deep Spending Cuts by SEIU

seiu-obama

SEIU: Say goodbye to your best buddy…

Imagine my distress…

From Bloomberg: In a clear sign that labor unions are bracing for lean times under Donald Trump, the massive Service Employees International Union is planning for a 30 percent budget cut over the next year, according to an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek.

“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wrote in an internal memo dated Dec. 14. “These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources.” After citing the need to “dramatically re-think” how to implement the union’s strategy, Henry’s all-staff letter announces that SEIU “must plan for a 30% reduction” in the international union’s budget by Jan. 1, 2018, including a 10 percent cut effective at the start of 2017.

SEIU, which represents nearly 2 million government, health-care, and building-services workers and wields an annual budget of $300 million, is the nation’s second-largest union and arguably the most politically significant. In the past few years, SEIU has mounted organized labor’s most effective political intervention with the “Fight for $15,” a campaign that’s dragged Democrats—from city council members to presidential candidates—further left on the minimum wage. At the same time, it cultivated close ties with President Obama, played a key role in passing Obamacare, and worked hard to elect Hillary Clinton.

Asked about what the memo could mean for its current campaigns, SEIU didn’t offer specifics. “As we prepare to fight-back against the forthcoming attacks on working people and our communities under an extremist-run government, we know we must realign our resources and streamline our investments to buttress and broaden our movement to restore economic and democratic opportunity for all families,” said spokeswoman Sahar Wali. “As part of this process, we are currently looking at possible ways to improve our budgets.”

SEIU, like most of its peers, was already in a state of slow-motion crisis before Trump’s victory. Things will only get worse after inauguration, when organized labor will find itself without a friend in the White House. Unions will instead be up against unified Republican control of the federal government and of half the nation’s state governments, where labor organizers have already suffered some severe blows.

In Michigan, for example, Republicans in 2012 passed a private sector “Right to Work” law that let workers decline to fund the unions representing them, a public sector law doing the same for government employees, and a third law stripping University of Michigan graduate student researchers and home-health aides of their collective-bargaining rights. Afterwards, SEIU’s Michigan health-care local lost most of its membership.

With Republican dominance in Washington, the threats to SEIU will get more grave: Everything from slashing health-care spending to passing a federal law extending “Right to Work” to all private-sector employees could be on the table. One of the most widely expected scenarios is that a Trump appointee will provide the decisive fifth vote on the Supreme Court’s labor cases. The court already ruled in 2014 that making government-funded home health aides pay union fees violated the First Amendment, and a future case could apply the same logic to all government employees, effectively making the whole public sector “Right to Work.” SEIU was bracing for such a ruling earlier this year, in a case called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, but got an unexpected reprieve when Justice Antonin Scalia’s death left the court tied, four to four. With several similar cases brought by union opponents already making their way through lower courts, it may not last for long.

The Dec. 14 internal memo from SEIU’s president doesn’t specify which threats necessitate planning for a 30 percent cut or how particular programs could be affected. It does reference the next congressional and presidential election cycles, saying the union needs to “focus our resources and energy on the fights that position us to retake power in 2018, 2020 and beyond,” as well as position itself “to take on the forthcoming attacks, absorb the short-term losses and strengthen ourselves to win big in the future.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

California SEIU contract includes 9 to 19 percent raises for many workers

California Gov. Jerry Brown is surrounded by unidentified SEIU workers after signing a bill creating the highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

California Gov. Jerry Brown is surrounded by unidentified SEIU workers after signing a bill creating the highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

From Sacramento Bee: A proposed contract for state government’s largest union includes dozens of special pay raises for certain workers that could increase their salaries by as much as 19 percent next year, according to new details released this week by the bargaining units.

The biggest gains would go to financial experts working for departments like CalPERS, as well as workers with specialized training in competitive career fields.

Most actuaries next year would receive a 15 percent salary bump on top of the standard 4 percent raise that all workers represented by SEIU Local 1000 would gain. In general, they’re financial planners working for CalPERS who earn between $7,300 and $10,000 a month.

In total, the proposed SEIU contract would raise their salaries by 19 percent next year. Many vocational nurses would receive an 11.25 percent wage hike on top of the union’s 4 percent general salary increase.

Other job classifications, from tax auditors to environmental planners, would receive a 5 percent special salary hike next in addition to the general SEIU raise. Custodians, too, would gain 3 percent on top of the standard raise.

The state and its unions regularly conduct salary surveys, and special salary adjustments are intended to keep certain careers competitive with the private sector. A 2014 state salary survey showed that many SEIU workers had fallen behind their peers outside of state government.

Since then, the union and the state have studied how to offer better incentives for those high-demand workers.

SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado

SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado

“A lot of this came out of the state’s inability to recruit or retain” for competitive career fields, said SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado. “The work they do is really good quality work. As soon as (other employers) find out, (the workers) are getting a lot more money” and job offers.

SEIU Local 1000 members will vote on the contract between Jan. 4 and Jan. 17. It published the tentative agreement this week, and it has been hosting meetings for its members to learn more about it. The union’s advisory commission endorsed it last weekend.

SEIU Local 1000 was on the brink of a strike over the contract two weeks ago, arguing that its members deserved better than Gov. Jerry Brown’s initial contract offer. Brown had proposed a series of four annual raises of about 3 percent each, offset by rising employee contributions for retiree health care.

In broad terms, SEIU’s tentative contract looks similar to Brown’s proposal, although it delays and reduces the retiree health care contributions. It provides a $2,500 bonus this year, a 4 percent raise in 2017, a 4 percent raise in 2018 and a 3.5 percent raise in 2019.

Some of its members were angered when they saw that outline. One state worker even created a contract calculator online where SEIU members could compare Brown’s offer to the one SEIU negotiated.

But the new details reveal that thousands of SEIU members across a broad range of careers stand to gain significantly more money than the initial outline suggested. Maldonado characterized the base wage increase of 11.5 percent over four years as the floor of the agreement, with some workers gaining as much as 27 percent through 2019.

The California Department of Human Resources and the Legislative Analyst’s Office have not yet released an estimate regarding the contract’s total cost.

DCG

California State government’s largest union is edging closer to a strike

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker speaks at a rally for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Sacramento City College on June 5, 2016. (Photo by Mack Ervin III)

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker speaks at a rally for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Sacramento City College on June 5, 2016. (Photo by Mack Ervin III)

From Sacramento Bee: SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker has called for a strike vote of the union’s 95,000 members beginning next week, according to a statement on the union website.

The union is trying to get a bigger raise than the 2.96 percent pay hike Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is offering. Brown’s proposal would raise SEIU salaries by 12 percent over four years, but also require its members to begin paying a contribution toward their retiree health care costs.  “We still believe the state can do better,” Walker wrote in a message to SEIU members.

SEIU represents workers in nine different bargaining units. Its contracts for nurses, administrative employees and information technology workers are among the 14 state labor agreements that expired this summer.

SEIU's best buddy...

SEIU’s best buddy…

Walker wrote to union members that SEIU has been in negotiations with the state for the past six months. In July, union leadership voted to authorize a strike vote. The next step toward a strike would be a vote by union members. A vote to strike would not necessarily lead to workers walking off the job.

Before workers strike, the union likely would have to declare an impasse in negotiations and participate in mediation with the state. That process could take months. But surveying members on their willingness to strike could strengthen SEIU’s position at the bargaining table.

Last year, the California State University sweetened a contract offer for the union that represents its faculty after professors voted to strike. As a result, professors received a 10.5 percent pay raise over three years rather than 2 percent raises the state university had been offering.

The Brown administration has been offering raises of about 3 percent a year to most unions. The state’s correctional officers accepted that agreement. Other unions representing attorneys, engineers and scientists are getting bigger raises this year.

All of the new contracts call on state workers to begin to making contributions toward retiree health care. So far, most employees with new contracts are paying about 1.3 percent of their salaries toward retiree health care, with the portion rising to greater than 3 percent over time.

Walker has led the union since 2008. Her union and several others without contracts argue that they sacrificed during the recession to help the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations resolve budget gaps.

With a better economy, they contend, the state should reward its workforce. “Now that the state’s coffers have significantly improved, we strongly feel that state employees deserve a robust improvement from pre-recession cuts. But the situation has turned bleak and sluggish in contract negotiations,” four union leaders wrote in an Oct. 10 letter to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. Those unions include two AFSCME bargaining units, a group that represents operating engineers and one more that represents psychiatric technicians.

SEIU conducted a series of surveys recently that showed its members are worried about the rising costs of housing and child care. The union says 39 percent of its members could not afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment in their communities.

CalHR spokesman Joe DeAnda said the Brown administration looks “forward to continued negotiations with SEIU, and hopes to secure an agreement that both reflects the contributions of our hard-working state employees and maintains the integrity of the state’s current budget stability.”

DCG