I am a nurse at West Suburban Medical Center. I am perplexed and quite frankly outraged by your July 1 editorial. [Wounding West Sub, Our Views, July 1] West Sub is by no means perfect, and that is precisely why employees are struggling to organize a union. But your readers would not know that because you failed to include any nurse or employee viewpoints. Therefore, I would like to share a few facts with you.
In the past six years, we have asked Resurrection management for a dialogue for a fair process. A fair process that allows the employee to make a choice based on truthful information from both sides, in an atmosphere free of the conflict and tension that have occurred during this organizing campaign.
The fact is employees who organize for a union or openly support the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 are pressured by management in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. The fact is, just recently West Sub made employees attend meetings that were clearly anti-union. The fact is that Resurrection has settled 17 unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board, and two more charges are pending. The fact is a true democratic secret ballot election can never take place where fear, confusion and misinformation dominate.
Recently, America’s Catholic health care leaders and unions issued a groundbreaking document offering guidance and options for creating a fair process for workers to choose whether or not to form a union. The guidelines call for respect, equal access to information, truthful and balanced communication, pressure-free environment, and a fair and expeditious process – exactly the type of process we have been calling for with Resurrection Health Care for the last six years.
I can only hope that, with these facts, two things will happen. Resurrection will abide by the Catholic Health Association guidelines, and Wednesday Journal will report the facts from both sides.
I was quite taken aback when I read Martin Noll’s recent letter in the July 15 issue. [Union is the ‘risky choice,’ Viewpoints, July 15] Not only because he never bothered to call me to verify whether the story he reported was accurate, but also because Mr. Noll was apparently not very interested in my perspective.
Consequently, I have one question for Mr. Noll, as well as the administration at West Suburban Medical Center: Why are you so dead set against dialogue? For years, the one thing those of us involved in this struggle have asked, over and over again, is this: Please meet with the union and work together in order to figure out a fair process that would allow each and every worker to decide, without the fear of retaliation, whether he or she wants a union.
This is precisely what the Catholic Health Association and the U.S. Conference of Bishops, in collaboration with many labor unions, came to agreement on recently. Interestingly enough, on the day I was informed that my position was eliminated, these groups announced that they had all agreed on basic guidelines for union organizing at Catholic hospitals.
The message is loud and clear – in this difficult economy, workers’ rights are to be supported, and all hospital employees deserve a fair organizing process. Yet, I do not understand why Resurrection, as a nonprofit Catholic organization, does not endorse the guidelines as delineated by the Catholic Hospital Association.
I am irked at your editorial about the AFSCME union and our West Suburban Medical Center; likewise Marty Stempniak’s reporting of the union rally and the page-two advertisement from West Sub’s “medical staff” (whomever that might include). [Union rallies outside West Sub, news, July 1] Those do not add up in my mind.
So I did some Googling and found a site at “U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, hospital compare,” which gave me useful insights. AFSCME is not saying that the hospital is “going to hell in a hand basket.” It is saying what the health and human services site is saying, namely, that West Sub could be doing a whole lot better. Among hospitals within a 10-mile radius of zip code 60302, West Sub scored “no different than the national average” in categories selected by health and human services, while Loyola in Maywood did “better than the national average rate.” But instead of addressing these findings head on, West Sub is attacking the union. They are enabled by some in our community who seem to be saying, “We don’t want to hear any bad news.”
The hospital would do better to allow unionization of its workplace, rather than eliminating the position of a nurse two days after she spoke up at a union rally. This only sends an unspoken message to other employees to shut up if they want to keep their jobs. But without input from frontline workers, none of us will get the hospital our area deserves.
Patrick J. Dooley