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April 10, 2013 / Paul Levy

Yet another page from the playbook

Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 10:53pm

Another in the continuing series about the tactics used by the Service Employees International Union during its union organizing efforts. In other jurisdictions, the SEIU has opposed hospitals who wanted to issue bonds to support clinical activities and projects. A key reason: To apply pressure on boards of trustees and management to agree to concessions that would tend to increase the chance of the union’s success in organizing the workers.

Here in Massachusetts, the state agency charged with reviewing and ruling on such issues is Mass HEFA, the Health and Education Facilities Authority. This is a highly respected agency, one of the largest of its types in the country. It has diligently and professionally reviewed applications by non-profits to float bond issues for several decades.

Recently, Caregroup, the nonprofit corporation that owns BIDMC, Mt. Auburn Hospital, and New England Baptist Hospital, filed a notice with HEFA concerning a potential bond issue to fund capital improvements in the three hospitals. SEIU personnel have been monitoring this process and have most recently filed a Freedom of Information Request asking for documentation between CareGroup and HEFA on this proposal.

Of course, all information covered under the state’s FOI law will provided, as it would be under any legitimate request. But this activity by the SEIU raises the question of whether the union intends to try to delay the issuance of such debt or to try to have unusual conditions applied to it, and if so, for what reasons and for what purpose.

[Disclosure: Many years ago, well before taking this job, I provided consulting services to MA HEFA in support of its effort to create an energy-purchasing cooperative for colleges, universities, hospitals and other non-profits across the state. The program, PowerOptions, remains in service to many non-profits in the state and continues to provides financial savings on their energy bills. I currently have no financial relationship with the agency and have not had any during any part of my tenure at BIDMC.]

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