On April 13, a majority of Memorial workers filed a petition with the board seeking union representation with the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Both the union and St. Joseph management have expressed willingness to sit down and negotiate ground rules leading to a fair election agreement.
Yet what should be a time of reconciliation is instead a time of disheartenment, as workers must continue to wait for their day to vote. Sadly, the delay now comes not from management, but by another labor union – the Service Employees International Union – bent on stalling and suppressing workers’ voice. SEIU has been misusing labor law as a means for delaying an election as long as possible and refusing to come to the negotiating table with the other parties.
I am not prepared to take sides in the broader conflict between the unions. I am sure that both parties have made mistakes in their dealings with one another. But as I have written before, the decision about unionization should be in the hands of workers alone. At Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, workers have clearly chosen to cast their lot with the NUHW. SEIU’s continued delay of the workers’ election, and its refusal to agree to ground rules for the election at Memorial, flies in the face of Catholic social teaching and contradicts SEIU’s own national advocacy for exactly the types of agreement it is now trying to thwart.
For the past several years, SEIU has been involved in a national discussion with Catholic hospital systems, the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on organizing in Catholic hospitals. The result, “Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Healthcare and Unions,” was released earlier this year and lays out a “fair and just organizing model” much like the model the Santa Rosa Diocese endorsed in March 2007. But SEIU refuses to adhere to this model here in Santa Rosa.
For those of us in the faith community who have dedicated our efforts to establishing a new model of union elections that truly protect and respect workers’ rights, this is most discouraging. SEIU’s actions undermine the work of labor, Catholic health care employers, clergy and workers who have endeavored for years to achieve ground rules at St. Joseph and other faith-based health systems. This why I have been joined by many members of the faith community in signing a letter to SEIU Vice President Eliseo Medina calling on him to reconsider the union’s position against fair election ground rules.
Labor unions, like all human enterprises, are imperfect institutions. But this should not distract from the principles of dignity, justice and voice for which they stand. I remain firmly committed to seeing workers at Memorial Hospital have the opportunity to vote on whether they wish to unionize. After five years of organizing, it is high time workers get that chance. SEIU should end its puzzling anti-union campaign of delays and enter into discussions with NUHW and St. Joseph to set ground rules for the union election at Memorial based on the principles we have all worked so hard to achieve.
True to form, Esquirol Medina wrote a letter back to Msgr. Brenkle, with copies to all the other members of the community of faith which had sent a letter to SEIU asking them to withdraw themselves from the SRMH election. And also true to form, Esquirol Medina continued the Zombie UHW position that only Their Way was The One True Path...
We'll transcribe, and then provide commentary, but this one's a beaut...
I want to thank you for your letter of October 23, 2009, and for your longstanding support for the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital workers in their efforts to achieve a fair union election.The only tragedy for you, Esquirol Medina, is that a clear majority of the workers at SRMH told you and your cloven-hooved minions to go pound sand.
All of us at SEIU are as disappointed as you are by the tragic turn of events that now threatens the hospital workers' opportunity to form a union with SEIU-UHW and joint with 150,000 other healthcare workers in California and more than a million nationwide.
We cannot in good conscience take any action that would suggest that "NUHW" is a legitimate alternative to the union that for nearly a century has been representing and raising standards for healthcare workers. As you know, the effectiveness of a union comes from the strength and unity of its members - not the words or actions of any individual union officials or staff. We are deeply troubled by the prospect of Santa Rosa hospital workers making a choice based on the promises of individuals with whom they are familiar - without considering that NUHW has no real membership base and its future viability as an organization is questionable at best.I know not where to start with the above paragraph, except to state that it is absolutely stunning in both its arrogance and in its absolute rejection of reality. First off, it is the PEOPLE of NUHW who have been representing and raising standards, not the people of SEIU. The effectiveness of the union comes from the PEOPLE, and not from the Stern-appointed lackeys who get parachuted in from Dupont Circle every time Our Glorious Maximum Leader needs additional dues money to replenish his scarf collection. The workers at Santa Rosa are making a clear-headed and foresighted decision - and according to Esquirol Medina, this must not stand.
We believe the hospital workers' best interests would have been served had they been able to choose whether to unite with SEIU-UHW through a bilateral agreement with the employer based on the principles issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June. Those principles, which are the result of a decade-long dialogue between labor, Catholic health systems, and Bishops, were intended to ensure that workers can make a decision without undue influence from either management or union officials. They explicitly were not designed to covern a contest between unions. An attempt to apply the principles to the current situation at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital would jeapordize their integrity and credibility and make it far less likely that they will be honored by other faith-based health systems.Translation: Come back to Our Way of Thinking, or you'll see trouble elsewhere.
Once again we see the breathtaking arrogance of SEIU on display (speaking in such a lordly manner of the "best interests" of the hospital workers after having abandoned them), but Medina also, in this paragraph, admits that NUHW is, indeed, a rival union, even though he claimed that was not the case in the prior paragraph. Pick one and go with it, Esquirol...
In our view, the only solution would be for "NUHW" to step aside and allow the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital workers to make a free choice about forming a union with SEIU-UHW.
Oh. My. Freekin'. Gawd. I realize this guy knows he's going to get beat, but does he really think that NUHW is going to step aside after having achieved absolute majority on the signup petition? I know the Purple Kool-Aid is strong, but somebody needs to cut this guy off before he goes and writes another letter.
Although we may not see eye to eye, we hope you recognize that we are trying to do what's right - not only for the Santa Rosa workers but for all of the healthcare workers in California and throughout the nation who have built a strong union and who need to stay united and strong so they can keep making forward progress instead of going backwards.The last line of togetherness and commonality of purpose before...
If you would like to discuss these concerns further, please don't hesitate to let me know.
cc: Cardinal Theodore McCarrickFor those who are wondering, Cardinal Thodore McCarrick is the bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and arguably the second most powerful man in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Bishop William F. Murphy is the Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Maryland, and works for Cardinal McCarrick. Bishop Daniel Walsh is the current Bishop of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California, and his prelate oversees the Saint Helena Catholic Church parish.
Bishop William F. Murphy
Bishop Daniel Walsh
So it seems that Esquirol Medina has decided to report the Good Monsignor to his bosses for the mere fact of publishing an op-ed in a newspaper that runs counter to Esquirol Medina's dream of power.
Can't you just feel the union togetherness coming from Zombie UHW?