Anti-Union Website Credited in Nurses’ Union Decertification Vote at Hospital


This story from today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch would be just a local story, in my view, except for the role played by an anti-union website claiming to have been created by “an independent group of nurses – not supported or affiliated with any member of the management.”

I shouldn’t be surprised by this angle, and I’m sure by now other union campaigns have featured propaganda battles waged on the Web. But this one looks very well done and effective. Employers and labor consultants take notice!

How credible is the claim of no employer involvement in the nurses’ anti-union website? I have no reason to doubt the claim, but would you believe it if you were an employee? Would it matter to you whether the employer was behind it if you found the communication persuasive?

Nurses at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center chose to end union representation there earlier this month, ending union representation of nurses in the St. Louis area.

Both sides agree on why most St. John’s nurses voted with hospital leaders. They said it was the strength of the hospital’s message and its ability to communicate it.

The hospital said its communication efforts provided nurses with background to make an informed choice. The union described those efforts as manipulation. . . .

St. John’s nurses Laura Sease and Bridget Whitson helped create, a website designed to push for decertification. The site included personal testimonials from nurses in favor of decertification and information on strikes, dues and the election.

There’s another instructive angle to this story: The union’s whining and how the press ate it up. Puleeeze!

The story was about the election results, as indicated by the above-quoted lead sentence. There was no report of unfair labor practice charges. A fair headline would be: “St. Johns Nurses Vote Against Union Representation.”

Yet the Post chose this headline: “Union says hospital used access to influence nurses.”

Suggesting this was improper? Unlawful?

No, just “unfair.” The union complained:

SEIU spokesman Carter Wright said the election process was unfair. Nurses were forced to attend the hospital’s informational meetings during work hours, were eligible for mall gift certificates if they answered questions about the hospital’s stance, and received a letter from the Sisters of Mercy asking the nurses, many of whom are Catholic, to vote with hospital leaders, he said.

“It’s very difficult to have a free and fair election in this country,” Wright said. “The employer has complete and total access to all the voters.”

Key points unsaid:

1) The process of having “a free and fair [NLRB] election in this country” has changed precious little since the heyday of union power. Such statements about the unfairness of the process are part of a union political and propaganda push to “reform” the law that has worked well for decades, including decades of great union strength.

The ploy: blaming union failures on the law instead of looking in the mirror (in fairness, some union leaders are starting to do the latter).

The goal: eliminating secret ballot elections that serve as a check on union coercion and peer pressure (and are consistent with American values of democracy).

2) In an NLRB election, the law requires employers to divulge to the union names and home addresses of all eligible voters. So that’s not “complete and total access to all the voters”? Tell that to someone who doesn’t want the union knocking on their door at night.

3) Surely the employees were paid for attendance at the meetings. Pretty easy money if you’re convinced what the employer has to say is a crock — just sit back and relax, maybe even doze a bit.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Union says hospital used access to influence nurses”


This post touched some nerves over at Adjunct Law Prof Blog. They do not appear to disagree factually with points 1 through 3, above, however. Apparently, they feel captive audience meetings should be abolished, or perhaps employers that use them should have to pay employees to attend such meetings with the union on an “equal time” basis? Read the comments over there, if you’re interested.

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1 Comment

  1. john wehner

    The union did not file a grivance which resulted i my firing. When i got a lawyer and sent a letter to the union they replyed by saying they would sue me for any lible, cousts and threated me, my lawyer ran off and took my money
    saying it would be a waste of time. Is anyone out there not afraid of the union?

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