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December 12, 2003

Oregon SEIU Organizes String of Nursing Homes

Statewide Neutrality Pact Key

Showing that bypassing the dysfunctional NLRB election system is often the key to establishing workers rights, SEIU has won representation at 10 Oregon nursing homes, with more to follow, under a neutrality-agreement with four of the largest nursing home operators in the state.

This was a case where the operators agreed to the deal because not only did they fear the union campaign against them, they decided a partnership with the union on behalf of patient care made sense:

The state's four largest nursing home operators sought the agreement after catching wind of Frane's plans to organize skilled nursing facilities in Oregon, said Jim Carlson, executive director of the Oregon Health Care Association, which represents nursing home operators.

The operators met with SEIU officials, found common desires to improve patient care, along with worker wages and benefits, and realized that SEIU's 35,000 members, most of whom are public employees, could help them leverage more financing, officials said.

"They have political clout with segments of the government that the long-term care industry did not, most notably the governor," said Mark Rubenstein, human resource director at Vancouver-based Evergreen.

This carrot-and-stick approach by unions has been the key to negotiating these kinds of neutrality pacts. For non-union progressives, it's worth understanding the dynamic so you can help support both the sticks and the carrots targetted at these corporations during these campaigns.

Posted by Nathan at December 12, 2003 10:02 AM