West Suburban Hospital is not perfect.

But if you watch cable TV, read your junk mail or even the letters pages of this newspaper, you might have some nagging sense that West Sub is slipping in quality, cutting back on patient care and, generally, going to hell in a hand basket.

That vague seed of doubt is being actively and unfairly planted by an aggressive union, AFSCME, which has over many years failed in its attempts to actually organize West Sub employees. Instead, the union has turned to a cynical effort at corporate character assassination.

That’s why you may have seen the ads on cable TV asserting unfairly that West Sub is not properly accredited by a health rating agency. It’s why you’ve received four-color postcards claiming that since its purchase by Resurrection Health Care, West Sub has cut back staffing.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 has been chasing after Resurrection forever. Over the past year it has focused its advertising and public relations smears on West Sub.

Throwing dirt is not the same as having right on your side; it is simply being subversive. It is an attempt to force the health system to cave in to union demands before real damage is done to the hospital’s reputation. West Sub shouldn’t think about giving in to these strong-armed tactics. Residents should actively ignore the union’s tactics. In recent weeks, the hospital, its doctors and nurses have begun to defend their hospital in their own letters to the editor. Good for them.

Take a look at the $25-million emergency room that Resurrection is building at West Sub. That’s real. The union’s tactics are low-class smoke.

Shopping black

In January we wrote about the Oak Park couple who pledged to “shop black” in 2009. They decided to see if they could spend all their discretionary dollars with black-owned businesses. The story went viral with regional and national coverage in print and on cable.

The response was strong and varied. There were supporters who saw the Andersons as justifiably calling attention to African-American entrepreneurs. There were critics who saw the effort as pure racism, a reaction that we always viewed as an odd over-reaction.

Today we revisit the shopping black experiment midway through the year and offer our perspective. This story resonates because it touches several sensitive buttons for blacks, whites and ethnic minorities who run retail shops in many black neighborhoods.

For complex reasons, there is a dearth of successful black entrepreneurs. Lack of access to capital, absence of a cultural tradition of family-run small businesses, and perpetually tough economic conditions in many black communities have combined to limit black-owned small businesses. Too many of the businesses that do exist provide poor service, a fixable problem. That has opened the door to a range of small businesses owned by Asian and Middle Eastern entrepreneurs, a reality that rankles many black residents of those communities.

Then there are a handful of white folks who see shopping black as some sort of reverse discrimination. After spending a lifetime shopping white, it is an odd leap to complain about a sincere effort to tout the hard work of black business owners.

Entrepreneurialism is always to be celebrated, especially during these tough days.

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