Monday, September 08, 2008

Visitors in the cafeteria

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.

7 comments:

PJ Geraghty said...

this type of behavior is infuriating. I hope your officers were able to issue "bar notices" (I don't know if MA law allows for this) whereby these individuals can be arrested if they return to BIDMC grounds again. Actually effecting the arrests might be a public relations problem, but having the authority to do so could be useful.

Anonymous said...

I was a member of a union over 20 years ago and will never be involved in one again.

While they do serve a purpose in current times, I have not seen where they would help workers at BIDMC more than they would just provide a monetary infusion for the union.

Check with the union memebrs at the hosptials around us, they don't seem happy to be unionized. Check with the Non-union memebrs at some hosptals nearby, they seem very happy.

Just arrest them if they violate the law again.

John said...

A nuisance, no less.

Must have been quite dramatic. They should have at least considered the privacy and rights of patients.

And squealing to the press of the "mistreatment" is totally unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

Well, that was almost predictable (and probably scripted) on their part; these people play hardball and recognize you as their Boston enemy #1. Next time, YOU issue the press release first about them trespassing on hospital property and endangering patients/visitors!

nonlocal

mdspencer said...

My personal wish is that the energy of this union would be devoted where it is really needed in working conditions. Hardworking but undocumented workers who work in restaurants or as cleaners for half the minimum wage, with no access to tips; who are employed removing asbestos with questionable training; who live an honest life here under Dickensian conditions. They really need help. That's what makes me feel a union like this isn't a union -- it's just a way to make money off of workers. Please, go where you are needed most.

AsTiMa said...

Do groups like this not understand that making asses of themselves is NOT appealing? No sensible employee would be interested in a group that promotes such behavior. Patients should come first and these groups obviously have no consideration for your patients.

Bonnie Smith said...

We have seen similar behavior from union representatives at our hospital. The most unfortunate part is that some employees will not only read the account of the incident, they'll believe it. For many, critical thinking goes out the window when the union comes through the door only to resurface when it's too late.