"Who Can Imagine" SEIU790 Hires PR Firm Involved In Outsourcing Jobs?
by Patrick Monette-Shaw firstname.lastname@example.org
WHO CAN IMAGINE San Francisco SEIU 790 member dues being paid to a PR firm involved in
a ballot measure that will make it easier for the City to outsource jobs?
The ballot measure seeks a change to the City Charter which will affect
all City Unions, except the Police, Firefighters, and Sheriff's unions.
Why is it that SEIU Local 790 members pay such abnormally high union
dues ... only to have their Union continue hiring a public relations
firm that works against SEIU member?s interests? (SEIU members pay 1.8%
of base salary each pay period, while the City's Management Executive
Association charges its members a flat-rate fee of $25 per pay period
regardless of income level, and other City unions, including Local 21,
charge their members less than 1% of base pay for dues.)
Just last Spring, SEIU Local 790 had its PR firm (Barnes Mosher
Whitehurst Lauter & Partners) ? which is either on a retainer to Local
790, or who get regular new business from Local 790 ? get involved in
the No-on-Prop.-D campaign against a grass-roots effort to protect
patients and staff at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, which
employs over 1,000 SEIU employees. The Union turned against its dues
paying members by opposing Prop. D, and utilized the services of Barnes
Mosher Whitehurst Lauter & Partners in order to do so.
A key principal in Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter & Partners (BMWL) is
one Mark Mosher, whom SEIU 790's Executive Director, Josie Mooney,
introduced me to at 790's Union Hall at 1390 Market Street last
February, long before the June 6, 2006 election. Mosher directed the
No-on-Prop.-D spin control on behalf of the Mayor and other opponents of
Prop. D, including SEIU 790 and SEIU's UHW-West.
Even before Mosher became engaged on SEIU's behalf on the No-on-D
effort, Michael Sullivan submitted a letter on November 30, 2005 to the
City's Elections Department proposing a change to the City Charter for
placement on the November 2006 ballot. Sullivan asked the City to call
Mosher at BMWL?s office phone number "as soon as the City Attorney
submits the title and summary ...". Sullivan ? as the proponent of this
ballot measure ? did not indicate in his letter why Mosher is involved,
or what work Mosher will be performing for this ballot initiative. But
obviously a proponent like Sullivan would not have the summary and title
sent to an opponent, so an educated guess is that Mosher is not an
opponent, but a supporter, consultant, or hired PR hack who needed to be
kept in the loop immediately after the City Attorney's office issued a
title and summary for Sullivan.
Notably, SEIU 790 has not notified any of its San Francisco members that
this measure will be on the November 2006 ballot, and SEIU has done
nothing to try to stop it. During recent negotiations for the SEIU 790
Nurses contract, and separately for the ?miscellaneous? employees
covered by the SEIU Tri-Local "Citywide" contract, bargaining team
members were never told by SEIU 790 staff that the measure Sullivan
submitted on November 30, 2005 had been approved when the City
Attorney?s office issued its title and summary of the measure on
December 16, 2005. Nine months have elapsed, and SIEU has not even
begun an educational campaign to alert its members that this measure
will be on the November 2006 ballot just three months from now.
Local 790 members who are disturbed by the SEIU Internationals attempts
to erode our benefits will be closely monitoring Mosher's involvement in
this ballot measure.
Sullivan?s proposed ballot measure seeks to make it easier for the City
to contract out work to nonprofits, since Sullivan had titled his
initiative "Contracting With Qualified Nonprofit Organizations."
Notably the City Attorney?s office has changed the title of the
initiative, most likely to make it less obvious that it is the
non-profit sector who is behind the measure in order to receive
lucrative contracts with the City.
This is a bald attempt to drastically reduce the size of City
government, but it is a shell game of cost-shifting from the City's
payroll to budgeted line items for "professional services contracts."
It is a direct erosion of City employee benefits, because non-profits
will be able to submit bids that provide no health care coverage,
budgeted pay raises, or retirement package expenses for employees of the
nonprofit, making it very easy for the nonprofit organization to
demonstrate that their costs will be much lower than the 10% threshold
to be awarded a contract.
There are multiple problems with this legislation, because as usual, the
proposed language is written vaguely for the City's advantage:
1. Although there is a provision that unions will be able to submit
written information analyzing the cost-savings of a proposed contract,
there is no explicit provision for involvement of the unions during the
actual competitive bidding process or before a request for bids is
issued. Unions will be permitted only to submit analyses prior to the
issuance of a contract, which is too late in the process.
2. There is no provision for oversight of whether a contract awarded to
a non-profit agency will be monitored to ensure services rendered by a
nonprofit are really of a "similar quality" to services provided by City
employees who will be displaced. The quality of services provided to
San Francisco residents could plummet, with no oversight of monitoring
3. Unlike another City Charter so-called "Civil Service Reform" measure
that will also be on the November ballot that specifically provides for
implementation of a second change on a separate issue at the end of
currently-negotiated contracts, the contracting out to nonprofit
organizations legislation will apparently take affect ten days after the
Board of Supervisors accepts the results of the November 7 election,
given the absence of language in the measure about any date of
implementation. If the contracting-out Charter change is approved by
the voters, it could lead to the City calling for an immediate "economic
re-opener" of the SEIU Citywide Tri-Local contract in order to change
language in the current language prohibiting contracting out of SEIU
4. There is no provision in the Charter Amendment to periodically review
whether the costs to the City of contracting with a non-profit remains
less than the cost of the work being performed by City employees.
The City Attorney's title and summary reads:
CONTRACTING FOR SERVICES PERFORMED BY CITY EMPLOYEES; CHARTER AMENDMENT
Except where provided in the Charter, all employees for he City and
County are appointed through competitive civil service selection,
appointment, and removal procedures. If the Controller and the Board of
Supervisors approve positions where the work or service can be
practically performed under private contract at a lesser cost than
similar work performed by employees of the City and County, and such
work is not required to be performed by employees of the City and
County, those positions may be filled by persons not subject to the
civil service process.
The proposed charter amendment would provide an additional method of
contracting for professional services when those services could be
provided at a lesser cost than similar work provided by the City. The
proposed amendment would authorize a City department to seek bids from
nonprofit organizations for the purpose of determining whether work or
services of similar quality could be provided under contract at a lesser
cost than performed by City employees. If after receipt of the bids,
the Controller certified that work of similar quality could be performed
by a nonprofit organization at a savings of at least ten percent, the
department could elect to contract for such work through a competitive
bidding process. The Controller would be required to establish
qualification criteria for nonprofits to be considered for such
The proposed measure would rewquyire a department to notify the Board of
Supervisors of a decision under this Charter section to contract for
work. If the Board of Supervisors overruled the decision by a three
fourths vote within 45 days, the department could not contract for the
work. The section would not apply to work required to be performed by
uniformed members of the Police, Fire, or Sheriff?s Department.
SEIU Local 790 members should demand an explanation from their Executive
Director, Josie Mooney, as to why her bloated organization has done
nothing to date to educate members about this impending change. After
all, the Executive Committee of Local 21 (International Federation of
Professional and Technical Employees) fired itss Executive Director,
David Novogrodsky on July 25, 2006 over a half-million dollar budget
deficit for FY 2005-2006, and a 75% turnover of Local 21's staff;
between March 2005 and June 2006, 15 of the 21 support staff at Local 21
had resigned or been fired by Novogrodsky, who failed to provide an
explanation of the staff turnover to Local 21's Executive Committee.
SEIU Local 790's Executive Board should carefully consider whether
terminating the contracts with both Josie Mooney and LaWanna Preston are
in order for their failure to educate our members about the contracting
out of our work. If Local 21 can fire its Executive Director over mere
budget and staffing irregularities, SEIU 790's Executive Board could
just as easily terminate Mooney and Preston?s contracts, provided 790's
Executive Board were truly alarmed about the potential outsourcing of
their jobs. However, Preston and Mooney have not kept SEIU 790's
Executive Board fully informed about this ballot measure initiative, so
the Executive Board is asleep at the wheel and completely uniformed
about what will likely transpire, and soon.
Mayor Newsom campaigned on a platform to drastically reduce the size of
City government, and he will be able to claim he has done this if
wholesale outsourcing of our jobs to the nonprofit sector occurs in the
cost shifting of moving City employees to the nonprofit sector under
"professional services" contracts.
As far as that goes, 790 members should carefully consider whom SEIU
will endorse and whom individual members will eventually vote for in the
five Board of Supervisor?s seats in the November 2006 election, because
the current Board is already stacked with the eight votes the Mayor
needs to stop a three-fourths vote of the Board to prevent outsourcing
jobs. In particular, Local 790 members should not support Bevan Dufty's
re-election campaign in District 8, nor Doug Chan's campaign in District
4 to replace outgoing incumbent Fiona Ma, since both men have received
Mayor Newsom's endorsement and neither man can be counted on to stop
efforts to outsource our jobs.
Those most threatened and at immediate grave risk by this ballot measure
are SEIU 790 and SEIU UHW members employed at Laguna Honda Hospital,
since the Mayor's Transition Team issued a report prior to Gavin
Newsom?s election that the LHH new facilities at LHH under its
replacement project currently underway will result in the facility
opening staffed not with City employees, but non-profit employees.
Two years after Mayor Newsom's initial election, management at Laguna
Honda are beginning an aggressive educational effort to re-train SEIU
employees to be able to work in community-based non-profit facilities.
Just like with just-in-time reordering of supplies in order to reduce
warehousing costs, the City is now placing a just-in-time ballot measure
on the November 2006 ballot that will provide the just in time vehicle
to outsource Laguna Honda jobs to the very non-profit organizations who
were promised by the Mayor's transition team that the new LLHH
replacement facility would open staffed by non-profit employees.
Laguna Honda?s SEIU 790 members who supported and voted for Mayor Newsom
might now be wondering why they cast their vote for the very person who
has played a huge role in the very Civil Service reforms that has placed
this initiative measure to outsource their jobs to the non-profit sector
onto the November ballot.
But as more and more City jobs are outsourced to non-profit
organizations via this ballot measure, it will not be just Laguna Honda
employees ? nor just SEIU members, as other unions will soon follow suit
? losing their jobs. Other City departments and facilities face the
same budget axe, with SEIU's help, if voters approve this Charter
If you have questions, try asking Mark Mosher.