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April 10, 2013 / Paul Levy

Look for the Union Label

Monday, November 6, 2006, 8:27pm

The gubernatorial election will be over tomorrow, so look for an increase in organizing activities here in Boston. The SEIU was an active participant in the elections, supporting some candidates with money, time, and effort.

On the issue we have covered in a posting below, both Deval Patrick and Kerry Healy are on record in favor of elections and said they would not support efforts to substitute a “card check” form of union certification. So, it is unlikely that this tactic will be pursued. But watch closely, and let’s see if the union changes the debate slightly. Perhaps now it will be in favor of elections, but not the form of election carried out under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Board. Here is an example of arguments being used in an organizing campaign in Chicago.

Look for the union, too, to cite papers and articles from selected academic think tanks, which may point to successful management-labor partnerships at other hospitals. Of course, that is not the issue, is it? There are both successful and unsuccessful management-labor partnerships in both union and non-union environments. The issue here is the process by which workers get to choose whether they want a union or not.

Finally, if all else fails, look for aggressive tactics to discredit the management and the boards of hospitals who don’t give in. All of sudden, the hospitals you have trusted to provide high quality care to all people will be pictured as having low standards, not caring about poor people or minorities, abusive of their workers, wasting federal research dollars, or worse. Trustees — those generous unpaid volunteer lay leaders — will find themselves publicly characterized as unworthy of supervising non-profit hospitals.

I can understand why a union might want to change the rules of the game to improve its odds of success. Will hospitals in the state accede to this, in response to pressure from the union and several of their friends in elected positions?

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