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April 10, 2013 / Paul Levy

Visitors in the cafeteria

Monday, September 8, 2008, 10:12pm

Well, we had heard that all of the 200+ SEIU organizers and other staff reported to be based in Massachusetts were busy working on the Presidential and Congressional campaigns or were otherwise involved in various union matters, but there were a few around last week. They dropped by our hospital to distribute leaflets, and in so doing violated two sets of our rules.

As I have made clear here many times (like here and here), we respect the rights of our employees, including their right to discuss whether or not they wish to be represented by a union. But BIDMC, like many other large organizations with lots of public access, has a solicitation and distribution policy which clearly spells out that non-employees (whether from a union, a company, or anywhere else) may not hand out literature or material on hospital property at any time.

After our folks confirmed that the people distributing the literature were not BIDMC employees, we politely asked them to leave. One group readily agreed and dispersed to a public area where they continued to speak with people. A second group chose to ignore our admonition that they were trespassing and chose to remain until sworn members of the BIDMC Police escorted them out of the building.

The union members violated another BIDMC policy by taking pictures in areas where patients were eating lunch, exposing them to the possible violation of their rights to privacy.

Now, shortly after all of this, the union issued a press release entitled, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Confronts Union Supporters with Armed Security Officers. The subtitle was, Contrary to BIDMC’s CEO’s stated commitment to transparency and openness, administration uses heavy handed tactic to end conversations about unionization.

So, now we get to see another tactic from the corporate campaign playbook in action. Create a setting that requires a response by the security forces of the institution you are attacking in a corporate campaign, by knowingly violating sensible rules or regulations. Use hyberbole and misinformation to give the impression that there is intimidation or some violation of workers’ rights.

By the way, it doesn’t matter if you happen to get media coverage on the story at that time. In fact, you might not even care if the story is not written, because a good reporter will always give both sides. It is more useful to recycle it later in your own publications to prove a “record” of intimidation. Perhaps later, too, it will even be fed to and used by some of those politicians you supported when there is a hearing on the legislation that would take away workers’ rights to a secret ballot election.

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