And the Most Disingenuous Statement of the Year Award goes to...

By ERIN SHANNON  | 
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Feb 16, 2018

David Rolf, president of the powerful Service Employees International Union 775 (SEIU) in Washington state, recently made the laughable claim that, “I don’t know much about” the package of union-backed bills sailing through the Legislature (HB 2751 and SB 6229).  He then nonchalantly portrayed that another union bill (SB 6199), which would dump more than $2.5 million every year into SEIU’s bank account, is merely a happy coincidence and that SEIU is cautiously supportive of it.

In an interview on The Seattle Times’ weekly political podcast, The Overcast, Rolf dismissed concerns the union bills are seen by some “as a gift to SEIU, a major Democratic donor.”  Instead Rolf, who is widely considered the nation’s leading union strategist and has been crowned “the most successful union organizer of the past 15 years,” acted as though he knew very little about the bills that have garnered the censure of daily newspapers across the state as “political favoritism.”

Check out the exchange between the show’s host and Rolf on whether SB 6199, which would work around the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court Harris v. Quinn ruling by contracting out to a private company the management of the state’s home healthcare providers, is political payback:

Rolf:  “Well listen, anything that allows for stronger unions…is obviously good in and of itself.  My understanding is, this DSHS request legislation has, as its, I’ve read most of the bill, has as its principle objective, building a  21st century management system…”

The absurdity of that statement cannot be understated.  For Rolf to claim he has “read most of the bill” and thus imply he has a limited, layman’s understanding of SB 6199 is beyond ridiculous.

The undeniable fact is in 2014 Rolf requested Governor Inslee implement the exact same strategy as accomplished by SB 6199, in response to a potential Harris ruling in favor of worker rights (which is exactly what the Court did).  A confidential memo to the Governor reveals a list of “requests that SEIU 775 (David Rolf, President) have made in response to the Harris v. Quinn case.”  The nine “requests” are a list of ways SEIU wants the state to work around the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling and deprive caregivers of their right to choose.

One of the SEIU “requests” listed in the memo is what is now SB 6199, which has passed the Senate and is now in the House where it is expected to pass.  After that it is likely smooth sailing to get the Governor’s signature, considering the SEIU “request” scheme was included in his supplemental budget.

At that point, the show’s host did not quite let Rolf off the hook for his claim that SEIU has nothing to do with SB 6199:

Host: “You’re acting like DSHS is the driving force, and they did request the bill, this is something you want, isn’t it?”

What follows is a meandering explanation from Rolf that while SEIU 775 cautiously supports SB 6199, the union made the decision to do so only after carefully weighing the “potential risks and potential benefits of the bill.”

Again, given SB 6199 is exactly what Rolf requested, on behalf of SEIU 775, from Governor Inslee nearly four years ago, it’s hard to believe Rolf and other SEIU executives did anything other than a happy dance when Democrat lawmakers delivered part of their wishlist on a silver platter.  After all, the bill deprives home healthcare providers of their right to reject paying for union representation they do not want, and in doing so will increase SEIU 775’s annual revenues by more than $2.5 million.  Adding insult to injury, the political payback to SEIU also increases program costs by $26 million every budget cycle, which will, of course, be paid for by taxpayers.

No wonder SEIU has refused to respond to media questions about the deal, instead telling reporters to talk to DSHS.

Rolf’s feigned ignorance on the trio of union bills that have been moving in the Legislature is simultaneously funny and offensive.  Funny that he could make such a claim with a straight face, and offensive that he would expect anyone to actually believe it.