Thursday, October 29, 2009

Figures lie

The old adage about "figures lie" takes on a new meaning when you are the target of an SEIU corporate campaign. In a recent mailing sent to the homes of our staff members (accompanied also by voice mails left on home phone lines), SEIU cites the rise in the cost of insurance benefits to our employees and notes that a number of our staff relied on "taxpayer funded health insurance."

Well, it turns out that many employers in the state, including unionized organizations, have employees who rely on taxpayer funded health insurance. Indeed, that was part of the design of Chapter 58, the universal health care coverage law passed a few years ago (the one being used as a model for national health reform). Here is the chart published by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on this topic. Let's see a sample of which governmental organizations and nonprofits are included: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts itself, City of Boston, U Mass, Salvation Army, City of Springfield, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Bay State Medical Center, Boston University, Boston Globe, Catholic Charities, Action for Boston Community Development, U Mass Memorial Health Care, City of Cambridge, Boston College. As you can see, there is a mix of both unionized and non-unionized organizations included.

The SEIU mailing also decries the fact that our workers last year had cuts in earned time, retirement benefits, and raises. Absolutely true. As has been documented in national and local news coverage, BIDMC was a national example in avoiding hundred of layoffs by asking workers to make a sacrifice for the greater good. And all the while protecting the lowest wage workers by ensuring that they would continue to get raises. This is what happens when workers care for one another. In contrast, how many stories have you heard about where unions have refused to consider this kind of shared approach, resulting in layoffs of their most junior members.


Anonymous said...

Aside from the obvious garbage content, these directed mailings and phone calls seem kind of invasive. Are they legally privy to a list of your employees? (I know, my naivete is showing.)
Interesting they can do this stuff but cry foul if a hospital wants to present ITS viewpoint to those same employees......

Anonymous said...

You should read a column in a Chicago area newspaper yesterday about what happened with Barack Obama and the SEIU and Advocate Health Care Systems ...,102809EATONcol.article

Anonymous said...

I forgot my moniker on Anon 12:18 comment; that was me, nonlocal.
Anon 2:30, I am not sure what to make of your link. We all know that SEIU also cherrypicks data which supports its viewpoint - in fact, most everyone does, including pharma companies. Also, was the Advocate Health System ever unionized in 2004 or since? The article does not mention that.
I just feel like each side in a union debate should be given a public opportunity to present its case - one time - and then have a secret ballot election shortly thereafter. Enough with all this nonsense on both sides. It wastes tremendous time, productivity, and $$.


Paul Levy said...


That's just what is provided in federal law. The union has control over a decision to begin the process by collecting authorization cards and submit them to the NLRB to certify an election. That has not happened here.

Anonymous said...


Yeah, but what I meant was forbidding all the lead-up stuff that's been going on (you term it "corporate campaign"). One chance, on one occasion, to each present your views. Then do it, yea or nay.
There is precedent - like pharm salesmen can't promote off-label use of their drugs. We don't HAVE to settle for the free speech excuse, plus doesn't it violate the no-call provision if they're calling people who have opted out of solicitation phone calls?
Oh, well, just nattering along in my idealistic fantasy world......


libertychick said...

Thank you for writing about this topic from a hospital CEO's point of view. Your observations are spot on. I cover SEIU as a writer for, and this is typical SEIU. It is very unfortunate to see their leaders turning to these same negative and manipulative tactics over and over again. It undermines their own members, deliberately misleads the public and does a disservice to democracy. They spend millions on purchasing lists (from companies like Catalist) and on mailers and media ads. Meanwhile, with all their targeted criticism at everyone else, SEIU spends more on lobbying and donates more to politicians than do any of the health care providers, insurance or pharma companies.