Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Katrina Evacuees Scab At San Francisco Hospital Strike

[Note: See update below. --JB]

It just keeps getting worse. Employers and the Bush administration are using Katrina to gut environmental protections, cut workers' pay and now even break strikes:
About a dozen evacuees from Hurricane Katrina are filling in for striking workers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, hospital officials said Saturday.

The workers -- among them janitorial staff and nursing assistants from the storm-ravaged gulf -- are employed by a temporary employment agency, CPMC Medical Director Allan Pont said.

"We learned they were Katrina refugees through word of mouth," Pont said. "Our staff is hearing what an ordeal they've been through"

Pont said the hospital had little recourse but to hire temporary workers to care for patients and provide upkeep for the hospital, but union members walking a picket line outside the hospital were aghast to find out the hospital was using evacuees from Hurricane Katrina to fill their jobs.
About 800 cafeteria workers, health aides and represented by SEIU on strike last week against three campuses of Sutter Health, CPMC's parent company
"It's such an extraordinary irony," said Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU United Health Care Workers West.

"SEIU is sending nurses and psych techs to New Orleans to care for people there. We're engaging the government to establish training programs there for workers who are unemployed."
Sutter has hired a scab supply company -- Healthcare Contingency Staffing Services (HCSS) to supply workers to fill in for the strikers. HCSS is run by the unsavory scabmaster Gary Fanger, who the Bay Guardian calls "the perfect guy for the messy, unpleasant, and all around ugly job of quashing a strike.":
a 52-year-old ex-felon who's been convicted on fraud, forgery, and drug charges and accused of stealing trade secrets and failing to pay child support.

Fanger portrays himself as a decent guy who's made some mistakes over the years. "I did some stupid things back then," he says. But, "I think I've been a contributor to society by employing hundreds of people.... I'm a good boss, a good dad."

· · ·

You can chart the career of Gary W. Fanger, a bulky man with blond hair, a soft voice, and a passion for sailing, by trolling the court records and criminal databases of California, Colorado, and beyond.

Fanger, who was raised in Los Gatos, first appears in the system in 1981, in Colorado, when Aspen police accused him of writing a bad check for $1,666.66, according to a search-warrant affidavit. At the time, Fanger was running what appears to have been a barter business called Executive Exchange. The case was closed and prosecution deferred when Fanger agreed to repay the money along with a $250 fine and court costs, court records show.

By 1984 he was wearing handcuffs again, accused by Denver cops of second-degree forgery (four counts), criminal impersonation (three counts), and check fraud (a single count). At trial, court reports indicate, he was found guilty on two forgery charges and sentenced to four years in the state pen; he appealed the conviction and was released on bond.

While out on bond, he was popped a third time, for "conspiracy to dispense" cocaine, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Probation records say he pled to a single count of "Criminal Attempt to Possess a Schedule II Controlled Substance," and got another four-year sentence, to be served consecutively with his earlier term. Fanger tells us he did three years in the Colorado pen and used the time behind bars to pursue college degrees.

His probation officer didn't have particularly flattering things to say about him, concluding, in a written report, that he was driven by "greed" and "the opportunity to turn $100,000 into half a million dollars in three to four weeks time." The probation officer was also concerned that Fanger was $25,000 behind on child support payments to an ex-spouse, with whom he'd had four kids.

"It's amazing," says one source who knows Fanger. "Every person around him gets screwed."
UPDATE: I recently received a call from Gary Fanger asking me to take down this post, disputing some of the allegations made in the Guardian article, and noting that even some of the accurate points were long in the past. Also note that Mr. Fanger has apparently left the "strike staffing" business.

While I have a policy of not taking down posts, I do have a policy of letting everyone have their say. I am publishing Mr. Fanger's letter below.
Dear Jordan,

Thank you for taking the time to talk about the Scab Master post this morning. I wrote a letter a couple of days ago to the publisher of the Guardian asking him to take the article down. The article was interesting because the next issue had a full page inside front cover ad for the SEIU. I don’t know if they were rewarding them for the article but my issues with the SEIU are behind both of us. Their negative information about me was pulled down by them voluntarily last year. I am hoping you can do the same.

I understand that you don’t normally take your postings down but this is a little different since the information was taken from the Guardian and it was not substantiated like it should have been. They called me hours before it went to press and even though I gave th em plenty of references, my son who is an attorney, an ex wife, an employee and other business associates they did not take the time to interview them.

The article covers the strike but mostly talks about my life and portrays a lot of negative information, some which is false and some that was true many years ago about past taxes and child support that was due and now paid. The article mentions a criminal record that is over 20 years old which I paid a price for but this article and its content continues to haunt my life. I have several children I am supporting, I pay all my taxes and I have no child support that is due. I have overcome a lot of obstacles in my life but still this article coming up on the top of a Google search is causing me personal and professional problems.

One of my employees voluntarily wrote a counter follow up commentary that ran in an issue just after this article. It helped because it would show up under the Scab Master article but it does not show up any more. I ignored the posts for years but lately they have caused me some real problems professionally and even when I was trying to get a loan.

I appreciate your time and attention and hope that you will consider my request.


Gary Fanger