ANTI-UNION: David Bussone of UHS

This coverage sponsored by the SEIU.

One hurdle crossed does not make a race won. This is a long distance struggle between nurses and for profit hospitals and the people who don't want unions like SEIU to get in the way. It's part of our national healthcare debate, which will only grow more acrimonious if everyone doesn't look at the realities. Think Progress and American Progress offer more, as does Julia. If you've seen more stories, please add them in the comments.  

David Bussone, pictured above, is the man behind the lock-out of the SEIU nurses in Las Vegas. Below is an interview he gave in February 2006, which telegraphs the strife to come this past week.  Bussone no longer flies underneath our radar.


Let's talk about the nursing shortage. What is the Valley Health System doing to recruit and retain nurses?

There are a number of things we're doing. We are trying to recruit nurses from other parts of the country. There are places in the United States where nurses are being laid off. Wisconsin for example - states that are losing population. The second thing that we're doing is we're certainly supporting efforts to home grow our own nurses. We offer nursing scholarships virtually on an unlimited basis to nurses in the local nursing programs. We've applied for a grant with UNLV and their School of Nursing to develop an internship program for nurses in order to stabilize that group of new graduates when they first go to work for a hospital. Going from the educational environment to the real world work environment can be very difficult, particularly when you're taking care of sick people. In some hospitals, we're also looking internationally in terms of nursing staff.

I don't know about you, but "home grow our nurses" sounds a bit dogmatic to me. Like a nurse farm system that makes nurses beholden to the people educating them on the profession that is actually a calling and something they will follow the rest of their lives. The loyalty factor for nurses coming up through a UHS nurse farm system would likely be obligatory. Then there's the obvious question. If a nurse coming up in Bussone's system decides she/he wants to leave what will be the financial ramifications? Will the nurse have to sign a contract prior to being educated in Bussone's nurse farm system that if she/he leaves all money will be due in "x" amount of time? Frankly, this seems inherently manipulative. It also smacks of anti-union bias, but maybe I'm being too harsh.  It's not like I don't have a bias.


The Service Employees International Union Local 1107 now represents the majority of the nurses in the Las Vegas Valley although Summerlin's and Spring Valley's nurses are not among them. Is the relationship with the union improving and how does union representation affect nurse retention at Desert Springs and Valley hospitals?

I haven't been here that long to be able to tell you how the relationship with the union has been in the past. Based on what I've seen, I would have to say it's status quo. I don't know that I can answer the question about retention.

"Status quo" is a very odd answer. You'd think someone in the position of director of something as large as Valley Health Systems would at least make the effort to put forth some pr that shows flexibility in dealing with SEIU, at least in public and on the record. Perhaps say, "I'm looking forward to working with SEIU and the nurses to the patients' benefit, which is everyone's goal." But nooooo.

Consider this next little item as foreshadowing of the larger story still playing out between SEIU and David Bussone of UHS.

There's more...

SEIU NURSE LOCK-OUT: Who is Brent Yessin?

This coverage is sponsored by SEIU.

SEIU nurses in both Desert Spring and Valley Hospitals, both of which are run by Universal Health Services, will tell you this isn't about unions.

It's not even about money.

What it is about these nurses providing the best patient care possible.

There's just one catch. Universal Health Services, which is run by David Bussone, has decided to make it about the union. UHS and Bussone have decided that they, not the nurses, know what's best for patients. So, not only are they pressuring nurses to care for too many patients, but they've brought in the big guns to make sure the nurses know they mean business.

Enter Brent Yessin and Brent Yessin & Associates. He's also a former Vice President of the Burke Group, an anti-union firm. People at these anti-union firms are sometimes called "persuaders." Quaint, isn't it. In California, these "persuaders" have been used repeatedly to undermine the California Nurses Association. In California, nurses are made to attend mandatory meetings where they are lectured by these "persuaders," whose fees range from $118 - $210 per hour, with expenses going into the millions for these anti-union campaigns. Mr. Yessin has earned quite a reputation. He's a master of anti-union campaigns.


It had been brewing for years. Notorious union-busting consultant Brent Yessin was hired by VHS in January 2006, when the two hospitals' contracts with nurses gave up, but the union says agreements were made in the summer of 2005 to bring him in. In September of that year, 39 nurses at Desert Springs made news when they were suspended from work for wearing SEIU pins on their uniforms. In 2003, Desert Springs tried without success to rid themselves of the union, and in 1999, when SEIU was defying the medical field's historical resistance to unions, they and Valley led an unsuccessful charge to keep unions out of hospitals.

Caring for the Caretakers
Nurses and hospitals continue the war over union demands

I've learned a lot about David Bussone's Universal Health Services in a very short period of time. Brent Yessin comes part of the package. They're fighting very hard and mean, but the really tragic thing is that Bussone's UHS is the only group willing to take down nurses and their patients in the process.

There's more...

Houston Janitors Win!

Via Indymedia Houston:

After four weeks of striking, Houston janitors have won a contract!

Houston janitors with the SEIU announced today at City Hall that they've won a contract. A really energetic group of janitors and supporters gathered for the 4pm press conference to announce the news. Mayor Bill White was there to express his support for the janitors and their push for better wages.

Everybody was so excited! Janitors, SEIU organizers, and community supporters were hugging and crying, giving thank yous and congratulations.

And here:
The Janitors won a victory today to be announced later tonight in detail. But the gist of it is:
- they will now be under a contract

- over the next three years they will go up gradually to $7.75

- over the next three years they will get more benefits and full time status with at least 30 hours per week

At the announcement at City Hall, Mayor White thanked the hard work of various downtown building owners in reaching the agreement, singling one out as an MVP, despite years of oppressive treatment of these workers.

There will be celebration tonight at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Way to go! I've no doubt at all that the widespread blog coverage and general outrage at the Houston police and their treatment of the janitors had a lot to do with the cleaning firms' decisions to return to the negotiating table after days of recalcitrance.

Next up: justice for those who were trampled by horses and abused in custody. Let's see Mayor White, a Democrat, do something about that!

There's more...

Tonight! Talk to Obama, Edwards about Wal-Mart

WakeUpWalMart.com is gearing up for its annual holiday campaign and you can join the conference call:

There's more...

Lame Duck Republicans: Abusive and Powerhungry

This is unbelievably obnoxious and immoral.  Even though they lost, the Republicans are trying to take away overtime pay for truck drivers while they still have power in the lame duck session.  This isn't just bad for the drivers take-home pay, it's also really dangerous and against the traditional role of a lame duck Congress.  When drivers are exhausted, they kill people on the road.

A change to the 2005 highway bill forces delivery companies to pay drivers overtime for the extra hours they work. Without this disincentive, some companies would keep drivers on the road to the point of exhaustion - boosting their profits and risking your safety.

These are some seriously bad people, killing working drivers and random people on the road so a few companies can make a little more money.  It shouldn't be that hard to stop them since Democrats have zero incentive to go along with this.  Here's where you can write in. 

This abuse, by the way, of the lame duck session, is wrong, and it's something that we should consider when the Republicans are talking about bipartisanship.  They really just can't stop abusing power.

There's more...

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