Arbitrator Margaret Kern said the hospital ruined any chance for a fair election by intimidating union supporters and spreading misinformation.
She ordered the hospital to pay SEIU $2.3 million, to cover its organizing expenses and $2.2 million to about 1,700 hospital employees eligible to vote in the election. The second figure is the amount Yale-New Haven paid to IRI Consultants to Management Inc., the company it hired to coordinate its campaign against the union.
'Employees were deprived of the right to truthful information, the right to do their job uninterrupted by solicitation, and the right not to participate in captive audience meetings,' wrote Kern.
The New Haven Register reported that after a long standing labor dispute, Yale-New Haven Hospital and the union agreed
not to disparage each other and to conduct a factual campaign. The hospital also committed to not initiate one-on-one conversations with workers; not conduct mandatory meetings; not use consultants to abrogate the agreement, while also promising to abide by the arbitrator’s rulings.
Kern found Y-NH violated all these points, conducting 98 mandatory meetings where workers were forced to listen to managers’ 'feelings and fears' about the union and misrepresentations about the hot button issue of union dues.
She said there was strong evidence that the consultants were keeping a running count of the workers’ leanings and that the violations were not the work of a 'few rogue managers.'
'The employer’s conduct here was a methodical dismantling of the terms and commitments of the election principles agreement,' Kern said.
I can understand that the hospital may have had rational reasons not to want the union to organize its workers. But it seems to make some promises Yale-New Haven makes in its mission statement, including
To provide sensitive, high quality, cost effective health care services to all patients, regardless of ability to pay.
To serve the community as a public health advocate and provide support and services which respond to the area's health care needs through health education, health promotion and access to care.
ring pretty hollow, after the hospital has been found to be "intimidating union supporters and spreading misinformation."
Would you trust a hospital management who spreads "disinformation" as part of a labor dispute to really support the best patient care, teaching, research, and community service?
Spreading disinformation also does not exactly fit with Yale University's motto, "lux et veritas," light and truth.
This seems to be another example of mission hostile management, this time by the leaders of one of America's premier medical centers.