Contrary to BIDMC’s CEO’s stated commitment to transparency and openness, administration uses heavy handed tactic to end conversations about unionization
Boston, MA – Union supporters were confronted by armed security officers who ordered them to stop handing out union leaflets in the public cafeterias of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s two main cafeterias during lunchtime today.
“The absolutely over the top use of armed guards to intimidate workers from reading a leaflet about unionizing and having a conversation during lunchtime is offensive to anyone who believes in free speech and the rights of working people,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Mike Fadel. “It’s ironic that this conduct is from BIDMC’s CEO Paul Levy, who has portrayed himself as someone who believes in openness and transparency. He should be ashamed.”
At about 11:45am, union supporters began peacefully distributing leaflets in the cafeterias of the BIDMC West and East campuses. Within minutes, security officers, including armed officers, descended on them in a show of force, in front of scores of shocked hospital workers. The guards confronted the union supporters, and ordered them to leave or face immediate arrest. And they said they would immediately arrest and jail any of the supporters who entered the hospital ever again. Photos taken in both cafeterias are attached. Additional images are available at www.FairUnionElections.org.
Levy’s actions conflict with the public image he has attempted to cultivate on his own blog, where he has argued that he does not need to sign a code of conduct agreement with any union pledging that he will not use intimidation and coercion, because he is already committed to open discourse among his employees. See attached fact sheet.
With endorsements from Mayor Thomas M. Menino and most Greater Boston Area city, state and federal elected officials and a unanimous Boston City Council resolution, healthcare workers are asking hospital CEOs to agree to an enforceable code of conduct. Under a free and fair union election code of conduct, caregivers would be free to make up their own minds about forming a union, free from management intimidation and coercion, under fair secret ballot voting conditions. A code of conduct is intended to preclude the use of intimidation tactics such as those used against workers today.
In past years BIDMC, a purportedly non profit institution, has spent patient care dollars on intimidation campaigns against their own staff when they have tried to form unions. Many Boston hospital workers are struggling to make ends meet on wages that don’t reward their years of labor, and thousands of workers can’t afford healthcare for themselves or their children. Said Fadel, “We have a vision of making our hospitals workplaces where caregivers have dignity and respect by joining together as a union. We want to make sure our patients get even better care.”
BIDMC CEO Paul Levy’s actions conflict with the public image he has attempted to cultivate for himself on his own blog, where he has often argued that he does not need to sign a code of conduct agreement with any union pledging that he will not use intimidation and coercion tactics, because he is already deeply committed to open discourse among his employees.
The following are examples:
“At BIDMC, we surely support a free and fair [union] election.” (September 7, 2007)
“We believe in free elections in which each employee, unencumbered by peer pressure or other outside forces, gets to vote “yes” or “no” in the sanctity of a private voting place.” (August 25, 2006)
“On this blog and elsewhere, you have seen the utter transparency with which BIDMC conducts its business. This transparency is fully endorsed and encouraged by our governing bodies because they understand that we are ultimately accountable to the public and that we will do a better job for our community if we admit our mistakes and try to continually improve.” (November 3, 2007. Emphasis added).
“I expect to be judged by both my comments and my actions.” (July 7, 2007)