A New Chapter for St Joe’s

(Factoids of the week: The busiest airport on the  planet is no longer O’Hare, it’s DUBAI.  And those cute little “baby carrots” at the market are actually big honkin’ carrots that have been carved by machinery down to their cute little “baby” shapes. )

But there’s also good news. More than 200 service employees  of St Joseph Hospital will now be represented by a union, the National Union of Health Care Workers. For the region’s flagship care provider, this is an excellent opportunity to retool their personnel policies. Of course, now they’ll have help.

Everyone who has had dealings with St Joe’s, and that includes most of us, has noticed how superior the staff is to the structure under which they must work. The staff, especially the nurses, are fabulous,  the hierarchy, not so much. An increased union presence is the best thing that could happen to St Joe’s.  Employees who can bargain collectively without having to beg management for each incremental improvement will, after the dust settles, be better able to provide excellent care. When management is forced to pay more, the  usual approach is to empower the employees and streamline procedures. Everybody wins.

Some of you who don’t know me may wonder how a person who is pro-business can also be pro-labor. Believe me, it’s easy. During my years at the NLRB I saw time and again the benefits of unionization. The employees can speak up without fear of retaliation and management gets to deal with a single Union rep instead of hundreds of disgruntled employees. It’s a win-win. There are many people in the County who are fearful and ignorant of unions since the demise of Big Lumber. With the nurses’ victory in 2001 plus this new bargaining unit, and the growing national revulsion toward minimum-wage jobs that do not provide a living, perhaps the tide is starting to turn.  We can only hope.


8 thoughts on “A New Chapter for St Joe’s

  1. My son is in a union. While the union dues are onerous for someone under the B pay scale, they can’t cut his hours below 24 as part time. I could imagine a nonunion job employer cutting hours rather than terminating just to bleed one dry. He thinks the atmosphere there is more contentious with a union—people get written up for minor infractions. I fear it will get worse if the new owner is a hedge fund. He gets important coverage like dental direct from this union.

    I paid union dues for decades, by choice. Mostly, the union business managers were worthless. But once I got out in the nickel and dimed world I then realized what a full benefit package I had. Many of our coworkers did not pay union dues but got the same wages and benefits.

    During a strike, we were on a picket line where UPS did a dance where the driver got out and management got in to cross onto Murray Field airport. Safeway employees came by with a trunk full of goodies like homemade mocha. My partner is probably still out there. There were a lot of hostilities.

    • I grew up in a family of military people (my dad) and teachers and state employees (everyone else). Every day of my working life I belonged to a union unless I was ineligible (doing personnel work or classified as management.) At the Shipyard ( I worked at THe Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for twelve years) the Unions got to rotate various stewards thru FT gigs to try them out. Meanwhile back at the ranch we had the same five or six people to deal with them while they always had fresh horses. Good for your son. Young people today don’t realize what it was like back in the old days.

  2. And those cute little “baby carrots” at the market are actually big honkin’ carrots that have been carved by machinery down to their cute little “baby” shapes.

    Safeway’s O organic calls theirs Mini Peeled Carrots. Anything more deceptive would perhaps be a criminal offense in the State of CA. They go on to state that their organic carrots are grown using “proprietary farming methods” which according to my dictionary means they, as an owner, have the legal right or exclusive title (“grown the way nature intended, without the use of chemicals and pesticides”). Who knew—organic can be exclusively owned, private. Is this under a trademark or patent?

  3. (Factoids of the week: The busiest airport on the planet is no longer O’Hare, it’s DUBAI.
    Here is the 2013 list that I found…
    Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
    94.4 million (-1.13%)
    83.7 million (+2.2%)
    London Heathrow
    72.3 million (+3.4%)
    Tokyo Haneda
    69.0 million (+2.6%)
    Chicago O’Hare
    66.9 million (+0.1%)
    Los Angeles International
    66.6 million (+4.7%)
    Dubai International
    66.4 million (+15.2%)
    Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta
    62.1 million (+3.4%)
    Paris Charles de Gaulle
    62.0 million (+0.7%)
    Dallas/Forth Worth
    60.4 million (+3.2%)

  4. Employees working under good management do not need a union, and it is unfortunate that the management situation at St. Joseph’s is such that a union is the only palatable alternative for the staff. It has been obvious for quite some time that hospital and corporate management are out of touch with not only the needs of the employees, but also the community.

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