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Boston City Council says Yes (10-0) to Free & Fair union elections at Boston hospitals

Resolution tells Boston hospital CEOs to refrain from employee intimidation during union vote




 BOSTON, MA – Boston city councilors voted unanimously (10-0) on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 to approve a resolution to protect local hospital workers and patients. Local caregivers told the council they need help from elected officials to ensure Boston hospital executives do not intimidate or harass employees during secret ballot union elections. Caregivers are also concerned hospital executives will waste patient care resources on intimidation campaigns to interfere with employee voting rights.

“The time for this basic act of fairness has come,” said Councilor Michael Flaherty.

The city council resolution passed today calls on Boston hospital CEOs to sign “free and fair election agreements” pledging they will not intimidate hospital staff seeking to form unions or spend patient care dollars on campaigns to interfere with secret ballot union elections. The resolution also calls on the hospital chiefs to pledge they will not take caregivers away from the bedside or patient care duties to coerce their vote.

“There are many hospital workers who can’t afford health care. How wrong is that?” asked Councilor Stephen Murphy prior to the unanimous vote.

Last Tuesday, Mayor Thomas Menino and actor/activist Ben Affleck threw their support behind the health care workers’ effort. That same day, more than 800 hospital workers, elected officials, community advocates, and religious leaders took to the street in a rally and march in the Longwood medical area, backing the movement for free and fair union votes at Boston hospitals.

“The rally at Longwood medical area was an important moment for the future of our city and an important demonstration of the bravery of the workers who wore the purple shirts,” said Councilor Sam Yoon.

Also last Tuesday, local health care workers who have experienced management-led intimidation campaigns during union elections testified before the City Council labor and workforce development committee, explaining why such campaigns are unethical, create a negative atmosphere in the hospital, and are detrimental to patient care. Despite being asked to testify by the committee at the October 16 public hearing, none of the fourteen invited hospital CEOs attended.

Historically, local caregivers have been attacked by expensive and ferocious management-led campaigns of fear and intimidation to undermine their voting rights during union elections in Massachusetts hospitals. Many local hospital workers struggle with low wages, a lack of training and education opportunities, and without affordable health care for themselves or their families. Many area hospital workers who have dedicated decades of work to area hospitals cannot look forward to a retirement with security and dignity.

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