The Ohio Dialysis Constitutional Amendment and the SEIU

The proposed Ohio Dialysis Constitutional Amendment has been written, promoted and financed by the Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) Local 2005, headquartered in Oakland, California.

The Ohio measure is a companion to a similar ballot initiative on kidney dialysis in California (California Proposition 8). The sponsor of the California ballot proposal is the SEIU-UHW.  A California campaign finance report for the first quarter of 2018 shows that the SEIU-UHW-sponsored campaign committee provided nearly $350,000 to the companion Ohio ballot committee as the Ohio campaign prepared to hire paid circulators to gather petition signatures. All three of the Ohio proposal petitioners listed on the official petition form filed with the Ohio Attorney General and Secretary of State offices are employees of SEIU District 1199.

 

 

What do they hope to gain?

While the SEIU has no expertise with kidney dialysis or policy surrounding patients with chronic kidney disease, it does have a long and notorious history of leveraging ballot issues to advance its goals.

 

Strong-Arm Organizing Tactics

The SEIU has a history of trying to intimidate health care employers with ballot initiatives if they didn’t allow SEIU to organize their employees.

That explains why the SEIU

  • never approached the Legislature or regulators to address the issues they claim to care about in their ballot proposal and
  • evidently doesn’t care that their proposed “fix” is a constitutional amendment, a risky and cumbersome process.  The only way to address problems that arise in implementing a statewide  Constitutional Amendment is by voting on another statewide Constitutional Amendment.  This is a long process that could threaten dialysis patients who depend on life saving treatments three times a week, 52 weeks a year.

The SEIU Has Used This Tactic in Ohio Before

In a 2003 attempt to organize employees of MetroHealth, Cuyahoga County’s public hospital, the SEIU formally opposed and actively campaigned against Cuyahoga County’s Issue 15, which funded health and human services for Cuyahoga County’s elderly and most needy children, families and residents.

See June 28, 2018 article on Cleveland.com for more information.

In 2005, the SEIU proposed a Clark County (Springfield, Ohio) ballot issue in an attempt to force their local health system into unionization for employees. The Columbus Dispatch editorialized, calling it a “smear campaign” and saying the SEIU “not only plays hardball, it plays dirty,” by blatantly misrepresenting newspaper editorials to mislead voters. The issue was defeated by local citizens.

See November 13, 2005 editorial in The Columbus Dispatch for more information.

The SEIU Has Used This Tactic in Ohio Before

In a 2003 attempt to organize employees of MetroHealth, Cuyahoga County’s public hospital, the SEIU formally opposed and actively campaigned against Cuyahoga County’s Issue 15, which funded health and human services for Cuyahoga County’s elderly and most needy children, families and residents.

See June 28, 2018 article on Cleveland.com for more information.

In 2005, the SEIU proposed a Clark County (Springfield, Ohio) ballot issue in an attempt to force their local health system into unionization for employees. The Columbus Dispatch editorialized, calling it a “smear campaign” and saying the SEIU “not only plays hardball, it plays dirty,” by blatantly misrepresenting newspaper editorials to mislead voters. The issue was defeated by local citizens.

See November 13, 2005 editorial in The Columbus Dispatch for more information.

Big Budgets for Political Tactics

According to public records, SEIU-UHW:

  1. Spent $12 million in 2016 on ballot issues.
  2. Spent $13.7 million in 2017 for “political activities and lobbying” not including contributions made from its PACs.
  3. Budgeted $18 million in 2018 for “organizing activities.”

So what’s this all about? After this history of abuse, voters should not believe the SEIU has dialysis patients’ interests at heart.  

Misspending Union Members’ Dues

To pay for these and other expenses, SEIU-UHW union members’ dues have increased 43% since 2011, increasing 11% in 2017 alone.

Not surprisingly, many SEIU members don’t like these tactics.

“It’s horrible waste of our dues,” said Lisa Engles, a medical assistant at Kaiser’s Roseville hospital and SEIU-UHW member. “They tried it in 2012, spent all that money and yanked them. Really?”  Most members are more concerned about their paychecks and working conditions than whether the union is pursuing initiatives, she added.  (Sacramento Business Journal, March 14, 2014)

Misspending Union Members’ Dues

To pay for these and other expenses, SEIU-UHW union members’ dues have increased 43% since 2011, increasing 11% in 2017 alone.

Not surprisingly, many SEIU members don’t like these tactics.

“It’s horrible waste of our dues,” said Lisa Engles, a medical assistant at Kaiser’s Roseville hospital and SEIU-UHW member. “They tried it in 2012, spent all that money and yanked them. Really?”  Most members are more concerned about their paychecks and working conditions than whether the union is pursuing initiatives, she added.  (Sacramento Business Journal, March 14, 2014)