(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.