imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

CopWatch LA

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List





IMC Network: www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - js reader version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Union Loss in Bend, Oregon

by Mark Vorpahl Thursday, Nov. 08, 2012 at 8:54 PM
portland@workerscompass.org

The game is rigged, but not the fight.

In 2010 and 2011, workers at St. Charles Hospital in Bend, Oregon came together to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49 to improve their conditions and strengthen their voice. It was the largest union organizing victory in Oregon for 30 years. This victory held great promise for not only St. Charles’s service workers, but all workers in Central Oregon and health care employees statewide.

On November 1st of this year, workers voted to decertify SEIU Local 49 in a vote of 334 to 212. Why this bitter reversal in less than two years?

To start to answer this question it is necessary to understand how the laws in this nation favor employers at the expense of workers’ unity.

To win legal recognition of a union, by itself, is an exercise in jumping through bureaucratic hoops and being set up for employer intimidation. A vote alone is not enough. Even if a super majority signs cards to join, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requires that another election must be held six weeks after these cards are turned in. This gives the employer a big window to begin to intimidate employees with captive meetings and other tactics where the employer can discourage a yes vote.

In spite of this, workers’ at St. Charles stood strong and won legal recognition by a narrow vote in favor of joining SEIU Local 49. However, the biggest challenge was only starting. Workers needed to negotiate a contract with the administration of St. Charles who were determined not to cede the slightest control of their power.

The strategy of the St. Charles administration was simple. Show up to the bargaining table to fulfill their legal requirement, but refuse to negotiate in any meaningful way. After a year they would be free to start a decertification campaign and, if all goes well, get rid of the union.

Using dollars that could have been spent on patient care and improving the wages and benefits of their employees, St. Charles hired the second largest anti-union consultant in America. No doubt, these efforts were supported by hospital CEOs across the state.

They conducted an aggressive campaign to find ways to fire union leaders and targeting pro-union employees for intimidation. Thirty percent of St. Charles service workers signed a petition to have a decertification vote. This minority was enough to set the wheels in motion to set up an NLRB election to get rid of the union, whereas, it takes a majority of workers to have an election to vote in a union.

So over-the-top were the St. Charles administration’s efforts that they flagrantly broke labor law. The union filed several Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the NLRB and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. As a result, the calendar date to have a decertification vote was put on hold.

This did not, however, make the administration any more flexible at the bargaining table. Because the process of investigation and judgment is incredibly slow and the penalties are weak for ULPs, they treated all this as a minor annoyance. Meanwhile, the employees continued to be subject to the pressure of the St. Charles anti-union campaign, and saw no satisfactory progress in bargaining, which seemed to be going on with no end in sight.

Even with a likely favorable ruling regarding the ULPs, a decertification vote would eventually have to take place. Consequently, the union decided to lift the hold on the vote calendar date because of the ULPs.

Intimidation Campaign

When the votes came in, it was clear that the majority of the St. Charles service workers were exhausted by the intimidation as well as frustrated and decided to decertify. A legal system tilted in favor of big business combined with the St. Charles administration’s intransience and deep pockets won the day for corporate greed. SEIU Local 49 has not yet decided whether to challenge the results.

But, as the old saying goes, the battle might be lost, but not the war. It is necessary to draw the lessons of this defeat and adjust tactics in order to win.

When the staff of SEIU Local 49 got a call that the workers of St. Charles Bend needed their assistance to pull together and resist the greed of their employer, the union did the right thing and threw considerable effort into the cause. Even with the decertification, the workers at St. Charles are in a better position today to conduct collective concerted action than they were before SEIU Local 49 jumped in.

St. Charles: Organize Industry-wide

St. Charles has four hospitals and is by far the largest employer in Central Oregon. They have no serious competitors in the region. They can afford to care nothing about public opinion, only the bottom line.

Consequently, though the hospital in Bend is their largest, the administration is in a strong position to resist a union organizing campaign at only one of their facilities. They have the resources to do so with a monopoly of health care services in Central Oregon and anti-union consultants willing to provide their services for a fat fee.

A union’s strength relies on its ability to organize the majority of workers on an industry-wide basis. A union organizing drive at St. Charles would be strongest if it could build organizing committees at all four of its hospitals.

In addition, unions are at their strongest when they act as a social movement and link community needs to the needs of its members. Such links, if seriously built, have the potential of choking the employer’s profits if the union goes on strike with massive community support on the picket lines. The employers know this and are more likely to negotiate a fair contract in order to avoid such action if they see the growth of such a development.

At this stage, immediately focusing on a campaign to re-win union representation at St. Charles Bend alone may not be the best step forward. Rather, it would be better to adjust organizing tactics by encouraging the organizing of a social movement that would take collective action on the issues of health care and workers’ justice in Central Oregon. It would include working members at all of St. Charles facilities as well as community members and former employees. It is this kind of solidarity that is at the heart of the union movement and will facilitate the winning of formal union recognition at St. Charles as part of a larger struggle.

The OurWalmart Model

A potential model would be OurWalmart. This organization was initiated and supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers’ (UFCW) union though OurWalmart’s members decide on their own actions. While the first efforts to organize workers into the UFCW failed at Walmart, the growth of OurWalmart has greatly helped future victories. It is because of the growth of OurWalmart that workers have been able to go out on strikes at numerous Walmart facilities for the first time in the company’s history. These workers went on strike to protest unfair labor practices such as retaliation against workers for taking collective action, which is legally protected even without the formal recognition of a union. As a result, they have Walmart on the defensive and have been able to win improvements to their conditions. The experience of such victories through sticking together is teaching Walmart workers about the potential of winning more if they form a union.

The service workers at St. Charles Bend already have a strong organizing committee. They could act as a springboard for a more broad based community organization to promote a culture of health care worker/community solidarity in Central Oregon. This will encourage future union organizing efforts at St. Charles on a wider level.

While labor law favors the employer in this nation, there are always ways to overcome this obstacle. The decertification of SEIU Local 49 at St. Charles Bend is a setback, but often out of setback come new opportunities.

Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


Local News

Segregation in the City of Angels: A 1939 Map of Housing Inequality in L.A. A15 7:44PM

Justice Dept. seeking info, IDs on 1.3M visitors to protest website DisruptJ20.org A15 1:04PM

San Francisco Rally Protests Hate Crimes in Charlottesville A14 5:38PM

New Google algorithm restricts access to left-wing, progressive web sites A02 1:52PM

Tracking Twenty Years of Stockton Killings by Law Enforcement A02 1:27PM

Garcetti Cronyism - Why and How to Ignore Your LA Dog License A01 5:05PM

Nation's Worst Meltdown Was In LA J31 4:54PM

As RV towing resumes in LA, officials say program won't 'target homeless' J31 1:15PM

Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack J21 10:18AM

Limits to Growth Published Forty Years Ago J18 5:15AM

KPFK's Indy Media on Air Now on Wednesdays J25 9:13AM

Lessons From Portland’s Clashes With Fascists J13 7:36PM

Dr. Maryse Narcisse of Haiti Visits Southern California M20 5:55PM

May Day March in Riverside M02 10:35PM

Nuclear Shutdown News: April 2017 M02 4:38PM

Jewish “Defense” League: Nazis in Skull-caps A07 11:13AM

Nuke Shutdown News 3/17 A01 4:13PM

RELATIONS STILL STRAINED BETWEEN SOUTH LOS ANGELES RESIDENTS AND THE POLICE M22 3:22PM

Elect a Green to Congress in Los Angeles M15 2:18AM

Prop. H Activists March on Hollywood to House and Help the Homeless M01 1:46PM

Prop. H Activists March on Hollywood to House and Help the Homeless M01 1:09PM

Prop. H Activists March on Hollywood to House and Help the Homeless M01 12:19PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Fbi Retaliates Again, II A19 5:51PM

Fib Retaliates Again A19 5:28PM

Assuétude paraphysique A19 12:08AM

What in the Hell is Wrong with Portland Indymedia? A18 8:32PM

Introducing the 'BURRO', the fbi A18 6:32PM

Sexuality Control, Forced Marriages happening in some areas A18 4:59PM

Cheap Mexican Sugar Imports Hurt Florida and Louisiana A18 10:41AM

Sonja Trauss is No Anarchist A17 6:08PM

Happy Accidents Offers The Secrets To Success From A Fresh New Perspective A17 5:31PM

Elephants giving rides at this year’s Minnesota Renaissance Festival were abused, says Ani A17 5:16PM

The Shortwave Report 08/18/17 Listen Globally! A17 4:55PM

Vésanie normative A16 10:11PM

Trump's Neo-Nazis and the Rise of Illiberal Democracy A16 7:50PM

#HeatherHeyer A16 7:12PM

Central Kentucky Mobilization for Hemp Passed near Lexington I-75 A15 5:25PM

environment harmed by mandatory jury duty. A15 10:58AM

Fbi Agents Rampantly Engage In Criminal Activity A15 8:53AM

Boeing Built the B-52 and the 747 A14 9:21AM

The Struggle to Influence GI,s during the VietnamWar A14 8:27AM

Tératologie paraphysique A13 11:09PM

Controlled media covers up fbi high crimes A13 1:09PM

Fuel Bandits Stealing Fuels wiyj Stolen Credit Card Numbers Reselling on Black Market A13 7:06AM

Russia-gate’s Mythical ‘Heroes’: James Comey and Robert Mueller pliable operatives A12 10:38PM

The true history of the fbi A12 7:37PM

Fbi frustration with my success A12 8:21AM

Plantations Were Prisons: Mobilizing for the Aug. 19 Prisoners Human Rights March A11 11:23AM

Le syndicalisme du capital A10 10:48PM

The Shortwave Report 08/11/17 Listen Globally! A10 4:22PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy