I really no little of the detail about this issue but it certainly sounds as if the SEIU leadership is willing to go to great lengths to get contracts with nursing homes and hospitals. Certainly it seems to be Rosselli who not only is standing up for the interests of his workers but also for the interests of nursing home patients.
Nursing Home Lobbyist Quits After He Predicts SEIU Powerplay
By Matt Smith
San Francisco Weekly
April 2, 2008
On Wednesday, March 19, at 8:52 p.m., Scott Carlson, executive director
California Alliance to Advance Nursing Home Care, was apparently in an
Carlson is a former executive with the Arkansas-based nursing home
Beverly Enterprises. And until last week he ran the Alliance, a
organization that helped negotiate labor contracts that have
nursing home workers from informing the press, or regulators, about
conditions for patients.
This was achieved through a pact between nursing home chains and the
two-million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the
nation's largest union, which represents nurses, orderlies, and other
healthcare employees. Under the pact, the union would use its clout
California Democrats to push nursing-home-industry goals such as tort
reform, which would limit patients and their families' right to sue in
of wrongful death or injury; in exchange, the chains selected
where the SEIU could absorb workers into union ranks. This was part of
national SEIU leader Andy Stern's strategy of collaboration rather than
confrontation, and included deals in Washington state, Missouri, and
California designed to rapidly add to union ranks on terms attractive
But in Sept. 2005, the strategy stalled when Sal Rosselli, the leader
SEIU's California healthcare affiliate, denounced the collaboration on
grounds. He particularly objected to the union's failed attempt to push
California legislation that would have limited patient lawsuits against
nursing homes. This was "neither good policy nor politically winnable,"
president of United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW-West) wrote in a memo
SEIU's Washington headquarters. "We cannot sacrifice principles such as
adequate consumer protection for organizing rights."
The dispute steadily escalated until Rosselli resigned from the union's
national executive committee in February, denouncing Alliance-derived
contracts as stifling the rights of workers and patients. But Carlson
cause for hope in this public conflict.
"Maybe [the dispute] will be finally resolved by the parent union,"
wrote in a March 19 e-mail to Gary Passmore, executive director of the
nonprofit Congress of California Seniors, which was obtained by SF
"That would then create opportunity for all responsible stakeholders to
effectively collaborate on behalf of California nursing home residents.
that occurs, I anticipate that a coalition of nursing home companies
seek to join together with stakeholder groups - such as yours - and
seek opportunity for further collaborative action."
Five days later, Carlson's wishes seemed to come true: Stern wrote to
Rosselli, announcing legal preparations to take over the California
affiliate and throw out its local leaders. Carlson's prescience about
Stern's plans seems suspicious - as if he had inside info from his pals
Carlson, for his part, said anybody familiar with internal SEIU
could see it coming. Indeed, internal union memos, transcripts, and
document a growing feud between Rosselli and Stern, who had sought to
thousands of nursing home employees to an affiliate more amenable to
"More SEIU representatives than I can remember - from UHW-West, Local
and SEIU International - have spoken to me about resolving the SEIU
conflict for many years," Carlson wrote in an e-mail.
I asked Carlson whether a takeover of UHW-West by Stern would mean that
negotiations with nursing home chains might be able to move forward, as
e-mail to Passmore suggests.
"No. It means only specifically what it says," he wrote in response. "I
believe you have been a leading source of inaccurate news about the
California Alliance to Advance Nursing Home Care. Please don't now seek
commit libel or defame me by speculating intent or new facts into my
communication with another person."
In response to my March 31 inquiry, Carlson told me he was resigning
the Alliance, effective immediately. He said this was part of a
plan that had been in the works since December. While nursing home
wait in the wings in hopes of fulfilling Carlson's March 19 prediction
they'll again "join together with stakeholder groups" in a labor
the conflict within the SEIU may escalate. Union takeovers can be
and UHW-West has stepped up security at its facilities in the event
national union attempts to physically take them over. Rosselli has
political consultant Eric Jaye to devise media strategy to derail the
attempt. Stern, meanwhile, is the labor movement's greatest media whiz.
The resulting coverage might baffle readers accustomed to labor-beat
about union leaders battling against companies - not among themselves.
it's important to keep in mind that the issues at the heart of this
are simple and relevant to everyone. It's about your mom, your former
teacher, yourself, and everyone else who will end up in a profit-driven
nursing home, now that the government has all but given up on direct
for the elderly. Three years ago, Rosselli took a stand against his
Washington union overseers' nationwide strategy of enticing employers
than confronting them. And in the case of the nursing home industry,
enticements were too morally repugnant to abide.
The ordinarily drab Oakland headquarters of United Healthcare
was festively jammed last Thursday with a hundred people wearing the
signature purple T-shirts. "Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Andy Stern has got to
they shouted 30 times in unison.
As one member after another stepped up to a temporary podium to
"officials in Washington, D.C.," UHW president Rosselli, a smallish man
neatly pressed shirt and pants and short-cropped hair, rocked on his
in time with the chanting.
Stern is "trying to intimidate me," Rosselli said in an interview.
used to being able to crush people who speak out against him."
This show of force is designed to make the SEIU's national leadership
twice before attempting to take over union facilities, freeze bank
and fire staff loyal to Rosselli.
This procedure, called "trusteeship," was designed to oust corrupt
bosses. In this case, however, the power play appears to have little to
with corruption, despite Stern's strong language. Instead, he appears
threatening a takeover of this SEIU affiliate as punishment for moves
Rosselli to upend the cozy alliance between the union and nursing home
chains. Carlson, for his part, points out that Rosselli had resisted
by Stern to move UHW-West nursing home workers into another SEIU
one whose leaders happen to be more amenable to collaboration, rather
confrontation, with nursing home companies.
Subject(s): Matt Smith on SEIU Discerning the truth or falsehood of
corruption claims may require a judge. But there's plenty of evidence
something other than corruption has boiled the blood of SEIU's
"We discovered some top-down deals made between SEIU Washington, D.C.
with our nursing home employers that ... limit their voice to speak up
themselves and their patients," Rosselli said on the radio show
Now on Feb. 15.
On the same program, Stern ally and SEIU executive board member Dave
who has served as a Stern proxy in this dispute, suggested Rosselli's
constituted treason. "This is the absolute, most despicable kind of
that Sal is willing, through his actions on this program, in California
other places, to weaken the strength of members of my union," Regan
Reporters rarely cover organized labor anymore unless there's a major
strike. So internal union goings-on fit in the public mind somewhere
confusing yet vital topics such as the mortgage-based-derivative
that nearly tanked the U.S. economy last month. Both are arcane
worth paying attention to until catastrophe falls.
But the outcome of the SEIU internal dispute could mean life or death
patients nationwide. If Stern succeeds in taking over California's
healthcare union based on trumped-up charges against Rosselli, it could
ensure the success of a cynical view of healthcare labor relations
contracts are the result of self-interested collaboration between union
bosses and corporations, to the exclusion of workers' and patients'
To understand the stakes in this feud, it's useful to revisit the
death eight years ago of Mary Hochman, a 52-year-old night nurse at
La Cumbre nursing home, a Santa Barbara affiliate of Beverly
which Carlson served as California-based vice president of operations.
According to news accounts, Hochman walked onto a beach and shot
the heart after a months-long dispute with her employer. Her problems
when she tried to report that a nurse's aide had hit an 81-year-old man
dementia. According to Contra Costa Times reporter Carolyn McMillan,
said in a sworn affidavit that she was told to cover up the
"If a nurse cannot protect her patients, I do not want to be a nurse,"
Hochman wrote in her suicide note. "This has taken all hope away from
Hochman's note, along with a journal detailing instances where she was
to cover up incidents of abuse and neglect, helped spur a federal raid
the nursing home. A subsequent investigation revealed patients
beatings and maggot-infested bedsores, culminating in a $2 million
settlement against Beverly relating to preventable deaths. The
also spawned a dozen civil suits, according to press reports.
After the Hochman investigation and settlement, Beverly Enterprises
its nursing homes in California and Carlson took on his consulting role
head of the California Alliance for Nursing Home Reform.
As a result of the agreement, nursing homes obtained what some
$3 billion in additional state subsidies thanks to a bill pushed by the
SEIU. The union also lobbied to ensure the bill did not include
supported by patients' rights groups that would have set standards
guaranteeing high-quality care. The union added hundreds of nursing
workers to its ranks. But the labor contracts that resulted included a
scandalous detail: The union was discouraged from informing regulators,
the press, in cases of bad patient care. Under traditional contracts,
whistle-blowers such as Hochman could report abuses to the union and
protected. The Alliance contracts, however, seemed to have the opposite
Under California's understaffed, toothless system, lawsuits are one of
few deterrents for-profit nursing home chains face to prevent them from
turning their facilities into charnel houses. Tort reform of the type
advocated by the Alliance might remove this deterrent.
Under Stern's "modern" collaborative strategy, such protections are
apparently worth sacrificing to grow the union. And during the next few
weeks, readers will see a confusing account of his efforts to enforce
"Stern is basically declaring a jihad against dissenters," said Jamie
president of Consumer Watchdog, a California nonprofit that describes
as dedicated to "fighting corrupt corporations and crooked
"This is a do-or-die issue for them," he continued. "Sal Rosselli is a
leader who stood on principle. He stood with consumers against the