Thursday, May 08, 2014

A reprise: Is this the free part, or the fair part?

Back in 2009, I wrote a story about an agreement between the Service Employees International Union and a major health care chain in Massachusetts which pretended to offer workers "free and fair elections."  It was nothing of the sort, of course.  In fact, it was a gag agreement that precluded an open debate about the merits of organizing those hospitals.

Five years later, we read this article in Modern Healthcare about a deal between the SEIU and the California Hospital Association.

The partners hailed the accord as a potential model for labor-management relations.

Boy, this must be good and really important.  We read further that the deal creates an organizing “code of conduct.”

The new deal, which was signed Monday night, includes facilities that operate a majority of the state's hospital beds. The hospital association declined to name the hospitals that signed the agreement, which will end Dec. 31, 2017. 

The code of conduct, which will govern organizers' communication with hospital employees, would seek to transform historically tense and negative conduct by unions and employers into more constructive and positive relationships... The partners declined to publicly release the code of conduct.

Wait, so unnamed hospitals signed a code of conduct that is being held confidential.

What a breakthrough for workers and managers! They don't know if their hospital signed the agreement.

What a victory for transparency! A code of conduct that is supposed to govern union-management relations is being kept secret from workers and managers.  Further, nothing was said as to how the code would be adopted or enforced.

So we have to assume that either the whole agreement is a nullity or that it contains elements that would be so abhorrent to workers or managers that the partners are afraid to announce what it says.  We can be confident, though, that it will offer workers "free and fair elections."  Whatever that means.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like unconditional surrender to me.