imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
Tell the NSA: StopWatching.US

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 - json version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles
link:

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

MDRC's Rent Reform Assault: Section 8 tenants vs. affordable housing industry J24 12:24AM

Obama at LA Trade Tech J23 3:23PM

Los Angeles Joins World Wide Protest Against Israeli Aggression J22 6:33PM

Los Angeles Joins World Wide Protest Against Israeli Aggression J22 5:48PM

Los Angeles Joins World Wide Protest Against Israeli Aggression J22 5:28PM

Protest Israeli Shelling of Gaza J21 1:58AM

#SaveTheInternet Rally J20 11:24AM

PACIFICA is shify-ing more J18 8:55PM

Radical Women Study Group J16 4:43PM

KIDS REPLANT WILSHIRE FRUIT TREES UPROOTED BY VANDALS J16 2:34PM

Emails Needed by Thursday, July 17 to Save the South Central Farm (Again) J15 4:40PM

Is AFT Pres Weingarten On The Take? J12 7:45AM

LA Living in Vehicle Law Found UnConstitutional J11 12:22PM

KPFK News covers the Che Cafe struggle J10 9:33PM

Public Comment on South Central Farm Site J07 10:44PM

Successful Protest at new Burbank Hobby Lobby on 4th J06 5:17PM

Protesters Violently Arrested in Murietta J05 12:44AM

Gallery Opening Highlights Journalist’s Creativity, Insights, and Passions J03 11:52AM

Indymedia On Air - Che Cafe show J02 10:27AM

Save the Che: Letter from Zack de la Rocha J29 8:47PM

Political Thriller Citizen Koch Premieres in Los Angeles J28 2:35AM

Veteran and Families of Military hold Press Conference J18 7:36AM

Furious Homeowners Occupy Lobby of Fannie Mae in Pasadena J16 4:15AM

Change Links Revival J12 12:09PM

Election Day with Occupy Los Angeles: Know Your Rights Juror Education Rally J05 9:39PM

United We Stand Festival Ignites a Wave of Action for Indy Journalists and Active Citizens J05 7:36PM

San Pedro Born Activist Yuri Kochiyama Dies J02 12:04PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

The Shortwave Report 07/25/14 Listen Globally! J24 5:00PM

Come for the education, Stay for the fun at the OC Health & Wellness Fair J23 10:59PM

Philippine president signs law requiring tobacco companies to put graphic health warnings J23 3:55AM

Rockets found in Gaza school J22 10:57PM

Statement on the Gaza Genocide J22 8:32PM

Capitalism and War: Pope Francis J22 4:18AM

Geekouts Link's for June and July 2014 J22 1:14AM

ADI holds Week of Action Against Circus Suffering J21 11:41AM

phantom protests J21 7:35AM

Précis de la tyrannie ou les 64 bourgeoisies J21 3:32AM

The Abiding Economics of John Kenneth Galbraith J19 3:19PM

The Word J18 1:12PM

Burn Cut Poison: Toxic Trillion Dollar Cancer Industrial Complex Of Radiation, Surgery, Ch J18 10:17AM

Abrégé de déictique J18 2:04AM

The Shortwave Report 07/18/14 Listen Globally! J17 2:54PM

carta a mi hija J17 1:40PM

SANTA MONICA ACTRESS TANNA FREDERICK TO VIETNAM TO INSTALL WATER FILTERS J17 11:21AM

Nationwide Air Conditioning and Heating Company Hiring in Southern California J17 9:18AM

Ariz. law enforcement: Marijuana shouldn't be legalized J16 5:27PM

Philippines: 5 Makabayan bloc legislators got P481M pork barrel J16 1:31AM

Lauren Kuby - Harry Mitchell - Tempe City Council J15 1:48PM

The Average Vegan Weighs 23 Lbs Less Than The Average Nonvegetarian J15 9:08AM

TTIP Undermines the Constitutional State J15 7:03AM

5,000 Show up in los Angeles Rally J13 7:40PM

Andrew Myers wants dispensaries to have monopoly on growing marijuana??? J13 8:22AM

Protest against Jewish terrorism & genocide in Palestine J12 7:28AM

israel training Georgia police J12 7:22AM

Paraphysique du capital J11 2:26AM

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