Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate Power

I have been writing about the strike by California Kaiser Permanente security guards working for contractor Inter-Con Security, who are demanding that laws be enforced and their rights be honored.

SEIU sent out a press release on the situation, titled, Workers With No Healthcare Protecting Kaiser Facilities, Security Contractor May Be Misleading California's Largest Healthcare Provider.  In summary, the security guards at Kaiser are supposed to be provided with individual healthcare after working for 90 days, but it turns out that many are not.  The security contractor Inter-Con Security has found a way around the promise: they classify workers as "on-call" instead of permanent.

As more and more workers report that Inter-Con is keeping workers on temporary or "on-call" status for months or years, it's still unclear whether Inter-Con is misleading Kaiser or if Kaiser is simply turning a blind eye to these tactics which short-change workers.

And their families are not provided with health insurance at all.  The security guards -- paid as little as $10.40 an hour -- are supposed to buy it.  The result is that 41% of the officers who responded to a survey cannot.  And without paid sick days they cannot afford to take the time off to see a doctor anyway.

(Continues...)

I am proud to be helping SEIU spread the word about this strike.  sfs-234x60-animated-v2

So here we are with a company finding ways around a promise by changing the classification of the workers to "on-call." This points out yet one more problem of workplaces that do not have unions.  How many people are classified as "temporary" or "contractors"?  This is one of the bigger scams that is going on these days.  One reason companies do this is because if someone is not an employee the employer doesn't have to pay their share of the Social Security payroll tax.  (There are other reasons as well, including avoiding paying promised benefits.)

How do you know if you should be called an employee or an independent contractor?  For a quick guideline, let's go to the IRS.  They say that by-and-large you are an employee,

if the organization can control what will be done and how it will be done. This is so even if the organization gives the employee freedom of action. What matters is that the organization has the right to control the details of how the services are performed.

Yet most of us see examples of people in this situation who are called "temporary workers" or "contractors" all the time.

Companies are not supposed to do this to us, but here's the thing: What can you do about it? You and I are individuals, alone.  But corporations have the ability to amass immense power and wealth and influence.  You and I as individuals must stand alone against this power and wealth.  What can you or I or anyone else do on our own?  The average person in our society has very little ability to stand up against this kind of power and wealth.

Over time people discovered that there are some things they can do that will work.  One of these has been to form unions.  By joining together the workers in a company can amass some power of their own.  The company needs the workers in order to function so the workers -- if they stick together -- have the ability to make the corporation obey employee/employer laws, provide decent pay, and all the other benefits that the unions have brought us.  This is why they are also call "organized labor." By organizing into a union and sticking together people have the ability to demand respect and compensation for their work.

This is what the security guards at Kaiser are trying to do.  This is what you should do.

I encourage you to visit StandForSecurity.org.

Tags: Kaiser Permanente, Labor, SEIU, strike, Unions (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

SEIU
Do you know there is an anti-SEIU advert that runs on this site?
They claim SEIU is in bed with corporations.
The ad on mydd send you here:
http://www.servingemployersinsteadofus.o rg/
by gil44 2008-05-09 06:16AM | 0 recs
Re: SEIU

Looks like another corporate anti-union site.  There are lots of those around. So what?

by davej 2008-05-09 06:37AM | 0 recs
A security guard who does not have health

insurance, who has a family, in all honesty, can not respond to calls.

If he is injured, he will never get out of debt.

by architek 2008-05-09 06:47AM | 0 recs
They need extremely good health insurance

as well as comprehensive disability insurance, for life.

That should be provided with the job.

Otherwise, every time they go after a crook, well.. do the math..

by architek 2008-05-09 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: SEIU

It's infighting between the "California Nurses Association" and the SEIU.  CNA is an extremely radical Union, and instead of doing what would be useful (Unionizing the health care industry in California), they're swooping in on SEIU Union drives to disrupt them because of a grudge against SEIU.  CNA backs the Green Party and has basically concluded that SEIU isn't radical enough.

A surprisingly honest assessment of the whole mess is found here.  It's obviously published by SEIU or an SEIU supporter but it still hews as closely to "truth" as any single document I can find.

by auronrenouille 2008-05-09 08:52AM | 0 recs
SEIU talking points

Good luck to the janitors.

We don't want to step on their story, but since an SEIU supporter decided to beat up on the California Nurses Association here, a couple points:

1. In the past two years, CNA/NNOC has for the first time in American history founded a national RN union.  We're 80,000 nurses working together for patient care and RN practice.

2.  We are the fastest-growing union in America, and that includes a significant amount of new organizing.  When SEIU RNs want to get out of their non-RN union, and join the National Nurses Movement, power to them.

3.  Are we really going to re-fight the 2000 elections?  Especially as your organization, SEIU, has a standing commitment to the Republican Party to protect their majority in the New York Senate...thereby blocking single-payer healthcare in that blue state.

4. For full background go here.

by California Nurses Shum 2008-05-09 11:18AM | 0 recs
I am sorry

I meant to type security guards.

There is a different campaign happening with janitors.

by California Nurses Shum 2008-05-09 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate P

Unions made America great and the Rethuglicans and their Corporate Puppeteers are making America into another Bananna Republic. If you love your country you must support the SEIU!

by eddieb 2008-05-09 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate P

I already saw an SEIU anti-McCain ad!  Great job, guys!

by LordMike 2008-05-09 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate P

...their families are not provided with health insurance at all.  The security guards -- paid as little as $10.40 an hour -- are supposed to buy it.  The result is that 41% of the officers who responded to a survey cannot...

to me, this diary points to the weakness of mandating the American people to purchase health insurance. To some degree it allows employers to bypass their responsibilities to their employees while many Americans will not be able to afford it without some financial pains (regardless of the reward factor involved).

But the bigger question remains. What is the MOST progressive way to provide coverage to the American people? IMO it's certainly not mandating people to purchase it. If we really and truly want a universal system, we'll need government itself to insure all its people. But that would take a realignment of who pays for what to a greater extent then Hillary's plan proposes.

Obama doesn't even address the universality component of healthcare and while I disagree with this approach in principal, it is a more pragmatic approach to the situation during an election. It also has a better chance of being implemented quicker while that overall consensus is built for universal coverage. Not exactly how I would like it but the realities of America as a conservative nation which is based on the "I" and "me" when it comes to money is a reality.

In my perfect world view, a single payer system mandating government to provide basic healthcare for all is the only way to accomplish universal care. It also has the best chance of being politically successful to the American people for the long term.

by alex100 2008-05-09 06:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate P

I agree with everything you wrote except for one.  You use the words "single payer system."  This is the most confusing choice of label for this...  

I asked a few people what they think it means and they thought it meant that you have to pay for all your health care by yourself with no help.

Please use the name "Medicare-for-all" to describe national health care.  There are a few decades of positive identification with Medicare behind us now.  Everyone knows what it means, knows how it works, and loves it.  So wWhy not just say that you want to extend Medicare to everyone instead of using a confusing term like "single-payer" that has zero identification and is downright scary?  This is a major mistake that progressives keep making.

by davej 2008-05-09 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate P

single payer is a confusing term but surely there's something better then "medicare for all" right?

surely?

by alex100 2008-05-09 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate P

But the public understands and loves Medicare.  From a marketing perspective, how could anything be better than that as a starting point?  The battle is 80% won right there in the name.

by davej 2008-05-09 09:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate P

okay then. so the name should be "universal medicare"

by alex100 2008-05-10 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Unions: Sticking Together

Unions are patriotic.

Thanks for fighting for justice.

by TomP 2008-05-09 07:32AM | 0 recs

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