Friday, May 29, 2009

SEIU surveys the residents

This week, residents at our hospital received an email survey request from the SEIU. Does this mean the union is thinking about organizing the residents, or does it hope to obtain responses that would be helpful in a corporate campaign? Some residents wondered how SEIU has the resources to obtain their email addresses and also how it can afford to conduct this kind of survey. The answer, as I have noted before, is because it can.

Dear Residents of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center,

As part of its effort to organize hospital workers in Boston, 1199SEIU has been reaching out to residents and attendings to better understand the joys and challenges of working at academic medical centers in Boston. As the end of your residency is near, we would like to give you the opportunity to tell us about your own residency experience. We would appreciate your thoughts on compensation for your residency and a few current healthcare policy issues.

Please consider filling out the following survey; it is brief and shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. Your name and personal information will be kept confidential. Responses will be compiled in the aggregate.

One resident wrote me the following note:

Should I respond to this survey and tell them the truth how enjoyable it truly is to work at BIDMC, how the salaries are fair for the market, and other generally positive things or would they simply use this to twist any words I said to the negative?

I feel that you have done a better than outstanding job at defending the management of this hospital through the budget crisis across the country and at being in touch with all employees about the day-to-day challenges of running a hospital; very much in the spirit of transparency, I think.

My gut tells me to toss the below e-mail in the garbage with an unsubscribe order, but my heart tells me to tell the positive truth. What should I do?

Of course, I made clear that this is a matter of personal preference. Here's the survey. Anyone can fill it out. I'll help you with the answers I would give:

Q. During your residency at BIDMC did you have the opportunity to negotiate you (sic) salary and/or benefits?
A. I believe that, under the national rules of residency selection, this is not permitted.

Q. Were you required to take a pay cut as part of the [BIDMC] budget cutbacks?
A. No, residents were exempt from any cuts. See here, paragraph 24.

Q. Should residents have been asked to take a pay cut as part of the budget cutbacks?
A. No, but is SEIU advocating a reduction in residents' pay? Ditto, paragraph 25.

Q. Do you think that BIDMC would respect employees' desire to form a union?
A. What do you mean by desire? Do you mean by a secret ballot election? Or do you mean under the SEIU's proposal to eliminate secret ballot elections or limit debate during elections? If the latter, how would you know what the employees' desire actually is?


Anonymous said...

Aaagghh! This is a new low. Go after the naive ones with little time to consider this carefully.
Of course, it's an opportunity for these doctors-in-training to enter a time-honored tradition in the medical profession - throwing ALL surveys in the trashcan. (:

nonlocal MD

Anonymous said...

As a resident at BIDMC, I received the survey. It felt dirty just opening it. How on earth did they get my email? It's creepy and disturbing, just like this campaign against a hospital I love to work at.

nasov said...

I took the survey. I think it has three purposes: to make residents think they are being treated unfairly; to make them feel nervous about budget cuts; to collect a number that says "employees at BID have no opportunity for salary talks."
I often wonder how scummy people can stand going to work everyday.

Jerry said...

I wonder how many people would vote to join SEIU if they had the same experience I had at my last employer who, it just so happens, was represented by SEIU?

The majority of us worked hard and quite literally paid our dues each week. The only thing I ever witnessed SEIU do is consistently try to get slackers out of the trouble they caused themselves by goofing off at work.

That really made me happy to send my $42 dollars a month to SEIU.

Megan said...

What I find offensive is that they have a quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "1199 represents the conscience of the labor movement." on their web site, as if it is a justification for everything they do now.

ed burke said...

Part of the reason for "because it can" is that not a single elected official in Massachsetts has criticized SEIU's tactics. Not a one. Thinks about that.

Anonymous said...

Prior to this institution,I had worked at an institution with SEIU, and I agree with the comment posted above by another former employee of a SEIU organization. The hospital was full of fractions that fought each other on who had to do the work, not actually doing it. I frequently would hear "That ain't my job" (if I got a response at all) for simple things I needed done for a patient (or if they asked directly). And I got paid less and had to give dues to the union. The only thing I learned from that experience is that Unions only represent themselves. Unions only look out for themselves. They made sure they seemed important, but really did nothing of value. I thank my lucky stars everyday that I have been able to change my program to come to BIDMC, where people emphasize working together, where people do not think of what they have to do, but what they CAN do, regardless of their position to help the patients. And where everyone, from transporters to chiefs of departments work together as a family to come up with a solution to any problem that comes our way. For the first time in my short career, I feel supported in what I need to do to take care of patients. Shame on you, SEIU, for trying to take that away.

Scotty said...

I am just amazed that this issue is still on the table. Ever since those folks started interrupting my mid-day walk through Joslin Park I have occasionally asked fellow employees of all varities...No one seems to express any interest in the union. We have certainly made it clear that we can take care of eachother with no such desire for outsourcing a production we effectively provide for ourselves. So, truly and sincerely I really want to know - why do they keep trying? Don't they have to pay for those oddly-shaped truck thingamajigs? Paul, we should sign them up for Lean!

Pete said...

Ed B, I think the reason no elected officials challenge SEIU is because they receive campaign contributions from SEIU.
You should be able to access the State data base on source/amount of campaign prepared for an ey opening surprise