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CNA's Union-Busting in Ohio-An Open Letter

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by LindaKirby LindaKirby (New) New

Ryegal, I'd like you to consider that the RN employee and the employer do not have the same goals. RNs must advocate for the well-being of their patients. Employers have bottom lines and stock holders to satisfy. These 2 very different goals make it all but impossible to have a meaningful partnership.

You know your patient needs clean linen, your hospital tells you to only use one set of sheets a day (I've been told that!!!). You know your patient needs ICU care, your managers tell you to transfer him and be sure to do it within 1 hour. I'm sure there are dozens of scenarios going through your head right now as well.

As RNs we need a union that will back us when we stand for our patients even though it goes against the financial interests of the hospital. In SEIU contracts, there literally is a specific clause that states that hospital financial interests trump all. If you truly are an advocate for your patient, you cannot stand for that.

Andy Stern's SEIU, in the end, in trying to be a 'partner' with management only ends up selling out workers and patients. Those 8,000 Ohio health care workers now have a chance to find real unions who will really fight for their rights and the rights of Ohio's patients. I suggest that the registered nurses start out by signing up with NNOC.

And so it goes . . . . :argue:

I'm noticing most of the posters just joined and only have a few posts . . . . hmmmmm.

steph

YES, seems strange.

Did it ever occur to the CNA in their arrogant wisdom that the Boss filed for the election believing the Union would lose???

The boss has a sweet deal either way.

I was at a Tenet hospital a few years ago when SEIU negotiated a master contract with them. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, SEIU organizers showed up at our hospital's front door. We were herded off to meetings in which Tenet's main labor relations administrator (some lady from Texas we'd never met before) and the president of the local SEIU-type union stood side by side telling us we have this opportunity to 'unionize.'

A few nurses in our hospital at various times had over the years tried to unionize either with CNA or SEIU/UNAC, but none of our nurses had been involved in the deal SEIU and Tenet were, at that time, offering us.

I had to ask myself 'What kind of a union is the union your boss finds for you????' The answer is a union that will bend to the will of the boss.

Our contract had a no strike clause. We were not permitted to have patient care committees that were management-free so we could have free and open discussion of real patient care and nursing issues. And if ever there was any kind of conflict, the financial interests of the hospital took precedence. In other words, the contract gave nurses no enhanced power to protect their patients. We would end up paying dues for no more clout than we already had.

Tenet was happy to agree to elections because either way they won. They could claim 'labor peace' and have fixed finances for the duration of the contract without having to worry that their nurses would expose the underhanded things they were doing (also in the contract was the agreement that nurses would not speak evil of their employer).

What kind of a union negotiated that kind of a contract? SEIU. Not the worker's friend; and certainly not the friend of anyone who wants to be a patient advocate.

It is interesting to me that in all this discussion it hasn't really been addressed that Ohio has an established organization that is representing thousands of Ohio RN's - the Ohio Nurses Association. Ohio RN's do not have to look to outsiders for good representation and negotiation of labor contracts. If you are an Ohio RN who would like union representation think about contacting the established Ohio RN advocate the ONA.

The ONA hasn't tried to help rns unionize in cincinnati since I have been a nurse. They represent the nurses at UC and maybe the VA and nobody has anything good to say about them. I have followed the work SEIU has done with CHP rns and it is the only inpiring activity for nurses in Ohio that I have seen in years. Good luck CHP nurses in getting rid of the CNA and scheduling a new vote! Please bring it to the rest of the Cincinnati hospitals after you win!!!

RN Power Ohio

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele, Hem/Onc, BMT. Has 15 years experience.

Some very significant facts are being left out of this discussion.

1. The "Ohio RN Advocate" ONA supported and actually thanked "nurses and organizations" (NNOC) for assisting in stopping this election.

2. NYSNA assisted as well by collecting signatures on letters to the Council of Bishops along with NNOC.

3. NNOC is a NATIONAL organization with many active members in Ohio. There are committees in metropolitan areas across the state.

Some highlights of NNOC Ohio activities:

1. Asking the Ohio Board of Nursing for stronger language in the nurse practice act that would give nurses the right to act in the exclusive interest of the patient- we already have the duty. - Board response "we don't get involved in employer/employee relatios".

2. Collecting hundreds of RN signatures on " A Letter to the Patients of Ohio" that explains to the public the importance of having RN's caring for them.

3. Speaking in public forums educating lay people about the dangers of short staffing.

4. Educating legislators about the need for mandated minimum ratio's and whistleblower protection for nurses in the state of Ohio.

5. Has begun a campaign for mandated minimum ratio's in Ohio.

6. Collected hundreds of RN signatures on a petition for mandated minimum ratio's.

7. Spoke out in public at the House Health Committee opposing the "false reform" of HB 346.

8. Held a rallies in Ohio at the premier of the movie Sicko.

9. NNOC RN's across the state have held Sicko house parties to discuss guaranteed health care for all.

10. Exposed the use of the RM petition by CHP and protested the process by which this election was obtained.

RN Power Ohio

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele, Hem/Onc, BMT. Has 15 years experience.

An article written by a nurse and long time activist. I have ommitted her name for her privacy.

March 13, 2008

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN OHIO REGARDING CATHOLIC HEALTH PARTNERS, SEIU, AND NATIONAL NURSES ORGANIZING COMMITTEE/CALIFORNIA NURSES ORGANIZATION

by a Registered Nurse Who Was There

"…legitimate questions have been raised about the top-down nature of some specific SEIU neutrality agreements. A careful look at criticisms aimed at SEIU raises more general questions about the wisdom of those neutrality-based organizing campaigns that neither engage workers in struggle nor build union solidarity." - Richard Hurd, Professor of Labor Studies, CornellUniversity, "Neutrality Agreements: Innovative, Controversial, and Labor's Hope for the Future", New Labor Forum Spring 2008

The history of SEIU's attempts to get workers under contract at the Catholic Health Partners chain of hospitals must be understood by those who want to be accurately informed about the role of the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Assn. in leafleting the hospitals last week. Foremost is the question of how much actual organizing of workers did 1199SEIU do at CHP? I don't claim to know all of the almost decade-long history, but I participated in the first organization of a CHP hospital in Lorain, Ohio, as a member of 1199SEIU, in 1999. I have lived and worked in Northeast Ohio for the past five years. I participated in leafleting fellow Ohio RNs and health care workers at CHP hospitals last week as a member of the National Nurses Organizing Committee.

In 2005, 1199 SEIU, as part of their corporate campaign against CHP, organized a vote for a Hospital Accountability Law in Springfield, Ohio, one of the locations of a CHP hospital. Although the union predicted a victory, in fact, the proposed law was soundly defeated by thousands of votes following a community backlash against SEIU criticizing their community hospital.

A few months ago, SEIU lost an NLRB election for three out of five bargaining units at the first CHP hospital at which they organized RNs, in Lorain, Ohio.

WHY DID THE NATIONAL NURSES' ORGANIZING COMMITTEE LEAFLET CHP WORKERS?

Steven Greenhouse's article of March 12, 2008 in the New York Times, other coverage by corporate media, and SEIU's media spin fail to bring to light a few central points about the SEIU deal with Catholic Health Partners over a quicky election for March 12 and 14, 2008.

The central fact of this situation was the agreement between the employer and SEIU to utilize an NLRB "RM petition" to facilitate a fast election, which the Bush NLRB quickly agreed to. Use of RM petitions is dangerous, not only to health care workers, but to all workers in the US.

Several other international unions have expressed support for NNOC/CNA in our view of the use of this RM petition. Although SEIU President Andy Stern appealed to the AFLCIO to reign in NNOC/CNA, the AFLCIO took no such action against us, as its affiliate.

WHAT IS A RM PETITION AND WHY IS ITS USE BY EMPLOYERS DANGEROUS TO THE LABOR MOVEMENT?

An "RM petition" is an employer petition. It is filed by an employer when one or more unions claim to represent the employer's employees or when the employer has reasonable grounds for believing that the union does not represent a majority of employees.

In this case, using an RM petition relieved SEIU of having to prove majority support or even producing a single authorization card from a single worker.

The agreement between SEIU and the hospital allowed a fast election to be called, where neither side would campaign (though there were reports of the employer telling nurses to vote for SEIU.) The pro-corporate media is buying into the spin that such an agreement is "groundbreaking" and "fair".

However, if we look at such an agreement from the workers' point of view - where is the fairness in being rushed into an election, where the vast majority of workers had little if any knowledge of SEIU? How could workers find out more about SEIU during this two week period of neutrality? They could call a hot line phone number to ask questions! Under the rules of the agreement, with "no campaigning", the workers - whatever their views or loyalties - could not organize their fellow workers prior to the voting - what kind of unionism is that?

What does it mean for a major US union to create a "model" for labor relations which virtually allows an employer to pick their favorite union to have to deal with?

Did SEIU really organize workers at CHP? Labor activists should ask what District 1199 Ohio has been doing for almost a decade regarding this employer. It is perfectly reasonable in this period for unions to seek neutrality agreements, but the question is: what is the nature of the neutrality agreement?

How could a few organizers over a few days influence the situation if SEIU had a real base? NNOC/CNA would have been a pimple on an elephant last week if they had really organized the workers and built an organization at CHP. Nurse after nurse to whom we spoke said they were voting against SEIU and they had clearly made up their minds long before NNOC/CNA arrived on the scene. Most, including a former nursing student of mine and his wife and sister, knew nothing about SEIU.

SEIU pulled out of the election less than 24 hours before it was to take place because they didn't have an organization and they didn't have majority support. In fact, the support they did have appeared to me to be very small. It is impossible not to conclude that SEIU planned to have their small minority of supporters sweep SEIU in at CHP in a rushed election, while the majority in their confusion, failed to vote.

The employer has stated that this election would have been wonderful because it would have avoided "disruption of patient care" and the "pressure of both sides campaigning". No labor supporter should be sucked in by this boss's spin….there have been NLRB elections for over forty years which resulted in health workers forming unions which did not disrupt patient care. If employers had refrained from extreme union-busting and "union avoidance" tactics over the same period, many more health workers would be unionized today. We cannot let the assertion that "both sides" pressure workers go unchallenged…

WHICH IS THE BEST UNION FOR PATIENTS?

In 2003, District 1199/SEIU in Ohio launched a campaign to convince the citizens of CuyahogaCounty (Cleveland) not to vote for a tax levy which would support our only public hospital and needed health services for the poor. This was apparently an effort to put pressure on certain human service agencies with which 1199 was bargaining at the time. This earned District 1199 strong criticisms from the health care community and progressive movement in CuyahogaCounty.

For those of us who are health care workers, particularly nurses, there is a central question which many in the labor movement tend to overlook.

This question is: what is the role of health care workers' unions in our society, especially in the US where corporate health care is ruining peoples' lives and in fact, killing patients through understaffing, non-regulation of drugs and medical devices, etc.

As a working nurse, shop steward and organizer in 1199SEIU particularly during the period of the late 1990s and up to 2003, it was my experience that the union did not take up the struggle of the rights and responsibilities of health care workers and their unions to advocate for patients against corporate health care and the hospital industry. The union became immersed in the strategy of labor-management cooperation, interest-based bargaining, and "strategic alliances". Whether in collective bargaining, or in enforcing contracts and reacting to on the job, day to day working conditions and patient care conditions, the union did not take up the important struggle of nurse to patient ratios, or work overload for other workers, for fear of rocking the boat with the hospitals.

Furthermore, SEIU has supported corporate and for-profit medicine in many instances as part of its legislative program, and entered into agreements which gag the union's members in health care from exposing dangerous patient care conditions. This has been particularly true in California.

THE CURRENT INTERNAL STRUGGLE IN SEIU, LED BY 140,000 CALIFORNIA MEMBERS

What happened in Ohio regarding CHP must be understood in the context of strong rejection among many within the union and in the labor movement of SEIU's current practice of developing what SEIU's leaders call "employer relationships".

The members of United Health Care Workers West, after living with the results of these policies for years, are now openly struggling against them. For information on their program, see http://www.seiuvoice.org and http://www.reformseiu.org. The main issues for the California SEIUers are experimental types of agreements with the nursing home industry which were breathtaking in their pro-employer and pro-corporate health care stance. All documents related to these issues are on the websites noted above.

There is a long history of extremely concessionary and extremely undemocratic deal-making in SEIU. I don't claim to know it all. But a letter dated June 18, 2007 from SEIU Healthcare President Dennis Rivera to the CEO of Tenet Health Care regarding California bargaining, offers a 7 year contract with the ability to re-open, and gives up the right to strike for the life of the contract. Additionally, it offers to agree with Tenet's demand for no defined benefit pension plan or retiree health plan in their California bargaining units. I believe, in California, as in New York City, defined benefit health plans and retiree health benefits continue to prevail for unionized health care workers, making this concession even more draconian.

SEIU WILL BE CHANGED BY ITS MEMBERS

Many facets of the struggle of the working class in the US are tied up in this debate about SEIU's role. Many of us with a past history in SEIU hope that its membership will turn the tide toward democratic militancy, real social movement unionism, and reject extreme concessions to the US health care industry.

NNOC Ohio member and organizer

30 year member of 1199 in New York City

An article written by a nurse and long time activist. I have ommitted her name for her privacy.

March 13, 2008

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN OHIO REGARDING CATHOLIC HEALTH PARTNERS, SEIU, AND NATIONAL NURSES ORGANIZING COMMITTEE/CALIFORNIA NURSES ORGANIZATION

by a Registered Nurse Who Was There

NNOC Ohio member and organizer

30 year member of 1199 in New York City

It's nice to protect the authors anonymity but it might be more informative if you also included that the person that wrote this is NOT an employee of the hospitals that were involved and her role in fact is as a major NNOC organizer in Ohio. Her view might be a bit biased on the subject. (I received her email so I know who it is).

RN Power Ohio

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele, Hem/Onc, BMT. Has 15 years experience.

It's nice to protect the authors anonymity but it might be more informative if you also included that the person that wrote this is NOT an employee of the hospitals that were involved and her role in fact is as a major NNOC organizer in Ohio. Her view might be a bit biased on the subject. (I received her email so I know who it is).

Feel free to fact check.

It's nice to protect the authors anonymity but it might be more informative if you also included that the person that wrote this is NOT an employee of the hospitals that were involved.

Nor are you, I note. And I believe that fact was made transparent in her letter. She is, though, an insider that has informative insights and knowledge.

Re "I do not understand how this could happen without a deal between the union and the employer."--

So-called neutrality agreements occur under the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act. The CNA has had many elections under the same provisions for neutrality. In the countries of the European Union, when a majority of workers show signed cards to the employer, the employer must recognize the union--no intimidation, no interference. This is also allowed under the provisions of "The Act" in the United States, but employers are usually unwilling.

RN Power Ohio

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele, Hem/Onc, BMT. Has 15 years experience.

Re "I do not understand how this could happen without a deal between the union and the employer."--

So-called neutrality agreements occur under the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act. The CNA has had many elections under the same provisions for neutrality. In the countries of the European Union, when a majority of workers show signed cards to the employer, the employer must recognize the union--no intimidation, no interference. This is also allowed under the provisions of "The Act" in the United States, but employers are usually unwilling.

You are getting there... one thing missing that makes this different than a neutrality agreement- not one signed card.

YES, seems strange.

The fact that the topic brought a lot of new posters to the site shows how strongly nurses are compelled to speak out against the unconsciable tactics of CNA.

You are getting there... one thing missing that makes this different than a neutrality agreement- not one signed card.

Hence, the election.

RN Power Ohio

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele, Hem/Onc, BMT. Has 15 years experience.

Hence, the election.

To vote for what?? A hsopital chosen union or no union. That is not a very fair election. Hence, the involvement of NYSNA, NNOC Ohio, CNA, and ONA.

The fact that the topic brought a lot of new posters to the site shows how strongly nurses are compelled to speak out against the unconsciable tactics of CNA.

Or just as likely, how strongly RNs are compelled to expose deals and schemes that in the end sell out workers and patients.

Nor are you, I note. And I believe that fact was made transparent in her letter. She is, though, an insider that has informative insights and knowledge.

No and I never claimed to be. The origional post by RN Power Ohio seems ti infer that the author was part of the RN's employed by the hsopitals in question.

I'm simply saying that posting the letter/article without proper background information is misleading. In order to have proper perspective it would be nice to include that information.

The fact that the topic brought a lot of new posters to the site shows how strongly nurses are compelled to speak out against the unconsciable tactics of CNA.
It is good when nurses are compelled to speak for the RIGHT, but lets not be nurses who allow the wool to be pulled over our eyes in backroom deals with unions that have a history of being in the employers pocket.
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