Sunday, April 21, 2013

How a blog held off the most powerful union in America

I've published a new book that might be of interest to those of you who care about the power of social media in preserving democratic values.  The story is about how I used this blog to fend off a corporate campaign by the Service Employees International Union between 2006 and 2010.  By denigrating our hospital, the SEIU was trying to put pressure on our Board and management to agree to process that would have shortchanged our employees' right to a free and open debate about the question of union organizing.  By using this blog to expose the corporate campaign playbook, the public and our staff were able to see through the union's tactics, and the effectiveness of the corporate campaign was nullified.

I was honored when David P. Boyd, Professor of Management at Northeastern University, agreed to write a foreword for the book.  Here are some excerpts:

In this book, Paul Levy offers a compelling historical narrative of labor-management relationships over a tumultuous five-year period. While the story itself is riveting and the stakes compelling, it is more than simple case narrative; rather it is a morality play about an attempt at power dominance which, if realized, would have foreclosed employee engagement. Through such tactics as “neutrality agreements” and “card checks,” a powerful union sought to become hostage-taker of a hospital’s financial and reputational halo. Levy knew such an approach would usurp the primary goal of the hospital to preserve and enhance patient care. It would also deny employees the right to debate and determine the environmental parameters within which they worked. Thus the principles in play were no less than institutional purpose and individual prerogative.

To safeguard the sanctity of these principles, a communications strategy became key; Quite novel as a weapon in 2006, this social medium offered several advantages. 

The result was victory for the hospital whose fundamental aspirations never fell victim to an external force.... The book remains more, though, than a treatise on unions and those they seek to organize. Rather it is a passionate plea that process be predicated on mutual respect. By shortcutting process, any group will nullify the ethical validity of its intended outcome.


The book is available on Amazon and will soon be available in electronic form on all platforms.  While you are waiting for the book, you can go to this site if you would like to see a full compendium of my blog posts with regard to the SEIU corporate campaign.

1 comment:

Vickie (in Texas) said...

I just read of your new book on my news feed. I know it probably feels like old news to you because the heavy lifting of writing and editing it are long past, but your fans will be excited by this new offering. Congratulations!

Also, America is proud of your city and its hospitals.