Beth Israel, union fight war of words

To hear CEO Paul Levy tell it, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is being as reasonable as possible in dealing with organizing efforts by the Service Employees International Union. To the SEIU, however, Levy and other hospital officials are not playing ball when it comes to permitting "free and fair" secret ballot elections for employees. The battle has been going on for nearly a year, and the temperature of the rhetoric continues to climb.

In postings on his blog, Running a Hospital, Levy argues that BIDMC's union policy meets National Labor Relations Board standards, and explicitly gives employees the freedom to discuss unionization or organize. The SEIU, however, isn't satisfied. It would like to see the hospital explicitly agree not to use "patient care funds" to discourage union participation--a term Levy suggests is too ambiguous to be workable. All told, it looks like the two sides have a way to go before they're even speaking the same language.

To learn more about the dispute:
- read this item from The Boston Globe

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