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April 10, 2013 / Paul Levy

Do you respect me more or less?

Sunday, October 14, 2007, 7:14am

Eliot writes a comment on one of my postings below:

Mr. Levy,
Your consistently anti-union bias makes me respect you less. You may think you are being reasoned and dispassionate; simply responding to unfair attacks upon your integrity by SEIU, but I think you are ignoring the inherent tilt in your opinions which comes through with every blog post you write on this subject.
October 13, 2007 10:37 PM

Thank you, Eliot. I understand that one of the possibilities from expressing my opinions publicly is that some people will respect me less. Another is that some will respect me more.

But, I don’t believe that you should respect someone more or less for opinions stated. I believe you should respect or not respect people for the actions they take and the deeds they do.

On the specific point you raise. I do like to think I am being reasoned, but several of you have pointed out what you believe to be inconsistencies in my logic. I created this blog to give people a chance to comment in whatever way they like, so it is perfectly fine to disagree.

I do not claim to be dispassionate. In the last six years, I have come to have great affection for this hospital and the people who work here. When I see that hospital and those people coming under attack, I respond. Once again, you are free to point out flaws in that response.

And, finally, you should be careful of the term “anti-union”. I think if you talk to people who worked with me in other organizations in which unions were present or wanted to have representation, you would be hard-pressed to find folks who would use that description of me. With regard to union organizing at BIDMC, I have been very clear about my opinion, starting months ago with a note to our staff. Here’s the pertinent excerpt:

“For me the underlying question is whether a union at BIDMC would enhance your ability to deliver the kind of patient care that is so important to all of us, to strengthen our research program, to improve our education programs, to strengthen our ability to serve the community, and to improve our employees’ chances for personal and professional development and advancement. I do not believe that it would, and so I intend to advise you against creating a union here. Ultimately, though, the choice will be yours, and we will respect your judgment on that matter if and when the time comes for a fair and free vote on this issue.”

I also said:

“We believe in free elections in which each employee, unencumbered by peer pressure or other outside forces, gets to vote “yes” or “no” in the sanctity of a private voting place. Thus, we cannot agree to a “neutrality” agreement nor to a system that bypasses the federal NLRB election process. In other parts of the country, hospitals that have taken similar positions to ours have found themselves subject to massive public relations attack by unions. The object of these attacks seems to be to denigrate the reputation of the hospitals and to put pressure on volunteer boards of trustees and management to agree to the unions’ organizing terms.”

I don’t see any of this or my other comments as anti-union or unreasonable, but anyone is free to disagree. To me, what is more striking is the silence on the part of my colleagues from other hospitals, the insurance companies, and the business leaders in the state. Civic leadership demands that corporate and institutional leaders be clear where they stand on major issues of the day. And this is one. The SEIU has made it clear that it is targeting all of the Boston hospitals for organizing efforts. Dear colleagues, if you support what it is doing, please say so publicly. If you do not, now would be a good time to be heard. I know what you are saying privately, in the confines of those business meetings and board rooms . . . but it doesn’t mean squat if you are not saying it to your elected representatives, the media, and the public. The SEIU is counting on your intimidated silence as a form of complicity. So far, you are squarely in the union’s camp.

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