Archive for July, 2018

Embattled UFCW Boss Faces Setbacks

Mickey Kasparian, a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local president in Southern California, has been embroiled in scandal for the past year and a half as a result of four Latina women accusing him of mistreating them. For those not familiar with the story, Sandy Naranjo alleged in late 2016 that Kasparian had engaged in gender discrimination and retaliation against her and had wrongfully terminated her. Shortly thereafter, Isabel Vasquez accused him of demanding she have a sexual relationship with him. A few months later, Anabel Arauz sued Kasparian for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Finally, Melody Godinez filed a lawsuit last December claiming he had repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Who are these women? Three of the four worked for Kasparian’s union; the fourth is a local union activist.

When we last checked in on Kasparian, he had just settled the lawsuits that these women had filed against him. The bad news is that the UFCW International Union still hasn’t made any effort to get rid of Kasparian. In fact, he was reelected at the UFCW International convention to another term as vice president. But there is a considerable amount of good news to report as well.

First of all, Kasparian’s political power appears to be waning. Several of the candidates his labor council endorsed lost their primary elections, and a ballot measure Kasparian supported failed. Amidst opposition to his role on the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee, Kasparian resigned in late 2017. His resignation from the party committee was followed by several local politicians calling for him to step down from his position as union president. This spring, SEIU left Kasparian’s breakaway labor council, the San Diego Working Families Council. (Kasparian formed that council just last year after the AFL-CIO took over the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council and removed him from its leadership.)

Second, Kasparian’s opposition shows no sign of going away. Kasparian’s opponents are still protesting him, and they are constantly attacking him on social media. They are also collecting signatures for a petition calling for an election. Among other problems cited in the petition is the use of union funds to pay for Kasparian’s legal fees and settlement costs.

Thirdly, Kasparian’s union is due for elections by the end of this year. So he will either have to stand for reelection, step down, or figure out a clever way of avoiding an election. Until very recently, Kasparian had been working on merging his local with another UFCW local, which would have allowed him to remain in office for another three years without an election. Unfortunately for him, the attempt failed. The president of the other local resigned suddenly, and the vote on the proposed merger was called off.

Fourthly, Kasparian’s union is in turmoil. The vice president of the union opposed the merger; Kasparian responded by firing him. The same day the vice president was fired, the comptroller, who had worked for the union for more than 15 years, resigned. Furthermore, a union member, who also opposed the merger, just filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against a union representative. The union representative is accused of threatening the member and trying to get the member in trouble with their company — all for opposing the merger.

As Kasparian’s fortunes fade, his scheming and spitefulness continue. For example, Kasparian planned to rig the vote on the merger by holding it on one night — during rush hour traffic — at the union office, which has very limited parking for a union with over 12,000 members. In addition, after the vice president of the union’s retiree club questioned the way the merger was being handled, Kasparian reportedly canceled the monthly luncheon for retirees.

The clock is ticking down on Kasparian’s term. With any luck, he will be gone by the end of the year bringing a close to a very disgraceful chapter in UFCW history.

 

Mickey Kasparian, a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local president in Southern California, has been embroiled in scandal for the past year and a half as a result of four Latina women accusing him of mistreating them. For those not familiar with the story, Sandy Naranjo alleged in late 2016 that Kasparian had engaged […]






Trump Moves to Protect Home Care Workers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support payments, will be permissible. Of course, any caregivers who wish to join or stay in a union could still do so. They would just need to make arrangements to pay their dues, which could easily be done by authorizing the union to draft money from their bank account.

For years, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has skimmed money off of Medicaid checks sent to in-home personal care workers. Many of these people care for relatives or friends and did not want to join a union. In Minnesota, 27,000 caregivers were unionized after an election in which fewer than 6,000 voted and SEIU received less than 3,600 votes. Unsurprisingly, some had no idea when the unionization election was being held and were surprised when they noticed that money had been deducted from their Medicaid checks without their authorization. Of course, SEIU does little for these home health care providers: it does not negotiate their hours, breaks, or tasks, file grievances, etc.

To grow its membership, SEIU has been accused of very aggressive tactics from hassling caregivers and their patients to forging signatures on unionization cards. Home care workers who expressed no interest in supporting the union had organizers call repeatedly and show up at their homes to try to sell them on the union. Unfortunately, once SEIU succeeds in unionizing caregivers, it is very difficult to get rid of the union as some workers discovered. The difficulty of firing the union under the current system is one of the reasons why this proposed rule is so needed.

SEIU’s aggressive tactics and lobbying have paid off — for the union. According to one estimate, SEIU collects $200 million a year from 500,000 caregivers as a result of this scheme. To help put these figures in perspective, SEIU’s national headquarters reports that the union has over 1.9 million members and that the headquarters had revenues last year of nearly $315 million.

SEIU also has a history of fighting tooth-and-nail to keep collecting money from home care workers. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in the Harris v. Quinn case that home health care providers could not be forced to pay  agency fees to a union. SEIU has fought back aggressively by getting friendly state politicians to pass favorable laws. For example, some caregivers have been required to attend meetings with union representatives. In addition, when the Freedom Foundation launched a campaign to inform home care providers about their right to leave their union, SEIU lobbied for a change in the law to make it more difficult for the foundation to get the caregivers’ contact information. If SEIU were truly helping home care workers, then why has the union been so frantic to try to keep its members in the dark about their rights?

With so much money at stake, SEIU will no doubt do everything within its power to prevent this proposed rule from taking effect. If the rule does move forward, SEIU will work to generate thousands of comments opposing it. SEIU can also be expected to file a lawsuit to halt the rule and to work to elect more bought-and-paid-for politicians to rescind the rule should it take effect.

The Trump Administration’s proposed rule protecting Medicaid payments from unnecessary, and often unwanted, dues deductions is an important first step in the right direction. After all, taxpayers provide funds to pay caregivers to assist the elderly and disabled, not to fill the coffers of power-hungry unions. The sooner the rule is finalized and takes effect, the sooner these abuses of workers and taxpayers will end.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support […]






UFCW Donates Money to Harvard

According to the LM-2 form that the UFCW national headquarters filed with the US Department of Labor, the union gave $10,000 to Harvard University last year. Thanks to the dues money it collects from cashiers, baggers, clerks, bakers, and others from all across the country, the UFCW is rich.

Just how rich is the UFCW? It had revenues last year of over $288 million, had assets of over $292 million at the end of the year, and apparently could afford to pay its president a salary of more than $298,000. Furthermore, the UFCW has made political contributions of over $3.3 million this cycle and has spent over $600,000 on lobbying.

On the other hand, Harvard is filthy rich. Last year, the Ivy League school reported that it had an operating surplus of $114 million and assets of over $44 billion. Harvard also reported that it paid its president a salary of over $1.4 million in 2016.

So the question is, why would the UFCW think that Harvard needs thousands of dollars of its members’ money? Given the university’s immense wealth, surely a more worthwhile charity could be found — or the union could just stop wasting money and lower the cost of dues.

According to the LM-2 form that the UFCW national headquarters filed with the US Department of Labor, the union gave $10,000 to Harvard University last year. Thanks to the dues money it collects from cashiers, baggers, clerks, bakers, and others from all across the country, the UFCW is rich. Just how rich is the UFCW? It […]