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Caregivers Protest Foley & Lardner's Union Busting & Intimidation
Date:6/12/2008

Call Upon St. Joseph Health System to Use Valuable Patient Care Resources in Manner True to Their Mission

LOS ANGELES, June 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hundreds of Healthcare workers from Los Angeles and Orange Counties demonstrated in front of the law offices of Foley & Lardner, LLP on Thursday, June 12th to protest the firm's anti-union tactics aimed against healthcare workers organizing their union at St. Joseph Health System (SJHS), a $3.4 billion dollar corporation founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange (SSJO). The SJHS employees are particularly angered that the coercion and harassment is being paid for by resources that could be better used to address workplace needs and provide care to those in need instead of to deny workers' their rights.

The 10,000 caregivers, part of a statewide unionization effort involving employees at five SJHS hospitals, have been subjected to a sophisticated and illegal anti-union campaign throughout their four year long efforts. Beyond that, SJHS has a ten year history of responding to employee unionization efforts by contracting out their dirty work to union-busting consultants. The current campaign which is now directed by Rick Albert, a partner at Foley & Lardner who specializes in "union-avoidance", has featured managers, trained by Foley & Lardner attorneys, spying on, harassing and intimidating workers who are known to be involved in the union effort, and has resulted in multiple violations of relevant labor law. The fact that SJHS has hired this outside firm, and at the same time repeatedly maintains that it is not an anti-union employer further highlights the contradictions between rhetoric and behavior that have tarnished the reputation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. The SSJO: founded the hospitals; hold the controlling majority on the current Board of Trustees; and their General Superior, Sr. Katherine Gray, csj, chairs the health system's board.

Magdalena Morales, who works in Environmental Services at St. Jude Hospital (Fullerton), says management's attempts to have it both ways are ruining staff morale. "I don't understand how they can spend all this money to fight us when all we are trying to do is take care of patients the best we can. It makes us feel very disrespected." The workers are calling on SJHS to live up to their core values of justice, dignity, service and excellence and work with, instead of against them to focus on providing better patient care.

The daytime demonstration featured workers from St. Jude, St. Joseph and Mission Hospitals in Orange County as well as community, political and religious supporters. Speaking to the upbeat and full-throated crowd, John A. Perez, candidate for the State Assembly seat representing downtown LA, joined the workers in also calling on the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange to stay true to their legacy of supporting workers' rights to organize, just as they did in the past with farm workers and janitors. "At a time when millions of Californians have inadequate, if any, healthcare coverage, and when healthcare professionals and community leaders struggle to find long term solutions to this major problem," said Perez, "it is tremendously disappointing that the Sisters of St. Joseph, once reliable allies to California's progressive communities, are wasting valuable resources to fight their own employees."

St. Joseph Health System, which has in the past been found liable for numerous Unfair Labor Practice violations by the National Labor Relations Board is currently under investigation for harassing and surveilling employees engaged in protected activity and continues to retaliate in other ways against workers engaged in the organizing drive. As dedicated caregivers, committed to our jobs and to our patients we believe there is a better way.

The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States and represents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional, technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

CONTACT: Jonathan Asmerom of SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West, +1-510-387-2934 (Cell)


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SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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