Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Does This Ever Sound Familiar: America Magazine Michigan Catholic Hospital to Face Union-Busting Charges

This article in the back issues of America brought back memories of my time on a picket line, a first lesson in the book of unions, utopians and Alinsky social justice lessons.  America Magazine Michigan Catholic Hospital to Face Union-Busting Charges
Just to let you know the rest of this story, the nurses reached a contract and withdrew its unfair labor practice complaint with the NLRB.
A Daughter of Charity affiliation and union busting allegations reminds me of a strike at O’Connor Hospital in the 1980’s. I read an article in the National Catholic Register this morning, Who Is Sister Carol Keehan? It brought me back to the subject of the Daughters of Charity.  I truly believe that name is a misnomer, given my experiences.  It lead me to do a search to see if I could find information about that strike at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, CA where I was forced to walk when the union (a professional organization-not a large national organization) was busted.  Fred Long and West Coast Industrial Relations was hired by the Daughters of Charity (who I now refer to in a loving way, of course, as the Daughters of Chicanery****).  You can read about the tactics used here:  Consultants, lawyers, and the 'union free' movement in the USA .
It was a very sorry state for the bedside nurse, as they were caught in the middle of a war between an employer that did not want the nurse empowered to better the practice of professional nursing in their institutions (the more work one extracted from the nurse without increasing staff to lessen the burden or paying the nurse more via better benefits or pay or without giving the nurses more say in how the day to day care should operate) and a union that wished to push a feminist argument of comparable worth as an integral aspect of pay (how that could ever happen).  Because the nurses were forced out (they had to join the union to get the job in  down economy) by a lockout, they were forced to fight the fight.  Only after she found herself on the picket line, did the average nurse start to understand what a pawn she was.  Many tragedies occurred in the personal lives of nurses as it put horrible strains on their families, as their salaries were necessary. 
There was no social justice for the nurses.  Bishop DuMaine certainly did not feel obligated towards the nurses like he did farmworkers.  The Daughters of Charity did not see that they should have concern for their own nurses like they had for immigrants and field workers.  Nurses were not important in the general scheme of things.  The nurses were sold out, pure and simple.
One should not be surprised how these programs of the social justice campaigns (such as the CCHD) of the USCCB have inflicted confusion and cooperation with organizations that oppose Catholic teaching like the Catholic Hospital Association. All this has resulted in the bringing of our traditional institutions to the brink of dropping  their Catholic identity, as appears to be the case in the Mercy Hospital system.(I direct the reader to the confusion and another stab at clarification by the Archbishop of San Francisco- Catholic Healthcare West becomes Dignity Health: What does it mean? )   They have made Saul Alinsky very proud as they show they can do it with the best of them.
Apparently, the Bishops had to finally talk about the subject in 2009 as cited in this blog of Fr. Robert Sirico, titled Comments in Our Sunday Visitor referring to Unions, yes. But When the Church is Employer .
Interestingly, guess who was on the working committee of the document: Respecting the Just Rights of Workers?  You guessed it, Sister Carol Keehan, DC!  The document is put together by the cheerleaders of CCHD.  The gist is that the management should not do union busting, and the workers should not be public about the conflict and draw the public attention to the the grievances.  The only weapon workers have is to put it in the press.  A employer-union clash in a non right-to-work situation is horrendous for the individual employee.  The paper does not address the fundamental issue of forcing any worker to join a union to work in their institutions.  The union and the administration are the only winners in such situations.  The document is pro union.  One thing I learned from the situation, I would never join a union again.
****I have known some very saintly Daughters of Charity who weeped at what their order was doing to the nurses.  May their souls rest in peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment