Monday, November 20, 2006

Door-to-door salespeople

A short while ago, one of the commenters on a November 6 posting on union organizing said:

"Your argument that your meetings are evened out by home visits is likewise unconvincing. In case you haven't noticed, the door-to-door salesman is extinct. Why? Because Americans dislike having somebody knock on their door to talk to us about just about anything. Nor do we like getting calls at home. (Did you notice how popular the "do not call" registry is?)"

Today, we received a report that two of our nurses (at least) had SEIU representatives come to their doors this weekend. The representatives had long lists of addresses for our employees.

Oh, and as I noted on August 25, previously they had conducted a telephone survey.

So, I guess this commenter is out of touch with current organizing tactics. :)

By the way, we had heard rumors that the SEIU and the Mass Nurses Association had reached an agreement that the SEIU would not engage in organizing nurses. I guess that rumor was incorrect.


Anonymous said...

Are you against the concept of unions? Just curious because it sounds like you are.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid you misunderstood my point about knocking on doors and calling people at home.

My point wasn't that these methods weren't or shouldn't be used by unions -- my point was that a process that forces one side to rely on these methods while allowing the other to utilize much more effective and efficient methods to get its message out is inherently unfair.

Knocking on doors is a time-consuming process, but it's one of the only avenues of communication left available for prounion workers and union members under the current rules.

On the other hand, employers can simply require all employees to attend meetings where they are urged to vote the way the employer wants them to vote.

Please take note that there is wide agreement that "captive audidence meetings" held by employer can make a crucial difference in the outcome of the process.

Phillip Wilson, an anti-union blogger and consultant who specializes in helping employers plan "union avoidance" campaigns, wrote a very interesting post (located here: ) arguing that in his experience the "odds of a company victory increase with each captive audience meeeting held" and that this makes a "dramatic" difference.

On this point, Wilson agrees with a study conducted by Cornell researchers that found that when employers require staff to attend captive audience meetings the chances are that employees will suceed in forming a union plummet. The employer's unfettered, unlimited access to the voters tilts the scales dramatically in favor of the outcome the employer prefers.

It's understandable that employers are so tenacious in demanding that workers remain locked into this status quo arrangement. Who wouldn't prefer circumstances that gives oneself such a huge advantage?

Anonymous said...

Unions are scum.

Although unions were once relevant and important to the labor revolution and worker safety, they now exist only to promote mediocrity, laziness, and themselves.

And they will not stop at mailings, phone calls, harrassing employees on the job, and breaking agreements with other unions. They will harrass, cajole, invade employees' space at home, and lie about you and your organization.

Anything, to get a cut of everyone's paycheck. That's their ultimate goal, civility be damned.

KULTURE said...

I enjoy reading your blog on occassion.

I have always felt that healthcare workers are used merely as sources of money by unions and little more...

Unions often find health care workers easy to unionize because they have two hot-button issues: 1) staffing levels and 2) the related mandatory overtime issue.

Given that unions regularly campaign on these issues, they rarely do much to correct them. HOWEVER, like ticks sucking the blood of a host, unions get their dues $$$ every month.

Wise hospital administrators who wish to remain union-free will recognize these two hot-button issues in advance and set up a forum for employees to deal directly with management on these issues, to negate the necessity of a union.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I did my residency at a hospital with a well established union -- the nurses with the least clinical skills and worst attitudes were usually the ones who held union positions and were essentially untouchable. A couple of years ago the nurses went on strike -- the hospital didn't have the finances to withstand that and it was shut down.

I sympathize with our nurses -- they are professionals that deliver outstanding care often under tons of pressure and trying circumstances. They deserve far more credit and kudos than they receive. But the pressures we face (lack of inpatient beds in the country, declining reimbursement) are a national crisis, not local hospital decision. BIDMC is a non-profit - there are no shareholders that are collecting the profits off our efforts. I think involving unions would make it more difficult to deliver quality care -- it would be a huge mistake that would destroy the BIDMC as we know it.

My hope is there will be open and frank dialogue that makes it clear to the nurses they don't need to resort to union style tactics to be heard. And if the unions try the strong arm techniques that they have in other cities, (ie delaying cancer centers, etc) I hope our nurses will ask themselves as professionals, whether they wish to be part of such an organization.

I hope everyone is having a Happy Thanksgiving!