As we approach Labor Day, an important story. Beth Kutscher reports in Modern Healthcare that "Prime Healthcare Services is suing a union it says is waging an ongoing smear campaign to pressure the chain into unionizing its workforce." Here's more:
In the 69-page lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Prime accuses the SEIU chapter of violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which Congress enacted to help the government prosecute organized crime.
“While Defendants' methods are wide-ranging and elaborate, their purpose is straightforward: Defendants have met with and told Prime that if it does not turn over the nonunion healthcare workers at its hospitals on terms dictated by Defendants, they will destroy Prime and ruin the lives of its executives,” the suit states. “To make good on their threats, Defendants have embarked on a campaign of extortionate assaults on virtually every aspect of Prime's business.”
SEIU asserts that the lawsuit is without merit:
"The allegations in Prime Healthcare’s lawsuit against SEIU and related groups and individuals simply do not hold up to scrutiny," said Steve Trossman, director of public affairs at SEIU-UHW, in a statement. "Many of them were contained in a previous lawsuit against SEIU that was dismissed multiple times by a federal judge. SEIU will seek a fast dismissal of this complaint as well."
When will health care systems come to realize that by the time you choose to fight a corporate campaign in the courts, much of the damage is done? Plus your chance of winning in court is based on a roll of the dice.
A more proactive, real-time approach is what's needed when a union seeks to denigrate a health system's reputation among key constituencies, with the goal of persuading management to agree to undemocratic concessions in the organizing process. I've documented such an approach in my book, How a Blog Held Off the Most Powerful Union in America.
In the foreword to the book, Professor David P. Boyd, D'Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University notes, "This is a powerful lesson in winning a battle of perception with the modern tools of transparency and internet speed."
And Dr. Harris Berman noted how "persistent and effective use of social media evened the playing field . . . keeping diverse audiences informed and engaged."
You can read more about this on one of my other blogs, Exposing the Playbook.