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Palin Not Alone in Bashing Community Organizers

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-05-08 04:05 PM
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Palin Not Alone in Bashing Community Organizers

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital

by Randy Shaw Sep. 11 2008

After Sarah Palin used her acceptance speech to belittle community organizers, activists responded with newspaper editorials, mass emails, and even a button saying, Jesus was a Community Organizer, Pontius Pilate was a Governor. But Palins attack on activists working for economic and social justice is part of a broader conservative strategy, one currently being used by Californias giant St. Joseph's Health System (St. Josephs) in trying to thwart a union organizing drive by SEIU-UHW. Like Palin, who cites her husbands United Steelworkers membership to obscure her anti-union agenda, St Josephs claims to support workers rights while attacking SEIU-UHWs union organizing drive. St. Josephs argues that there is one moral way to do community organizing, and that taking on an entire hospital system, rather than one hospital at a time, is not principled organizing. As onetime advocates for the United Farmworkers with connections in the progressive community, St. Josephs is pioneering a new message for anti-union conduct, one that deserves far greater scrutiny in light of Palins high-profile remarks.

SEIU-UHW is currently involved in the nations largest union organizing drive, with over 9000 St. Josephs workers at stake. As I previously discussed, although St Josephs is headed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, a religious order that once backed California farm workers, the order is taking an increasingly aggressive anti-union stance in this dispute.

Ethical Organizing

St. Josephs latest tactic is to decry SEIU-UHWs organizing methods. According to a recent email message widely disseminated by Sister Marie Jean Gaillac, SEIUs behavior is unethical because the union seeks to organize the entire system rather than a single hospital.

Thats a moral distinction worthy of Sarah Palin.

Sister Gaillac specifically highlights her support for the farmworker cause, and cites that struggle as reflecting the principles of community organizing that she believes SEIU-UHW has abandoned. Yet Cesar Chavez and the UFW found that securing table grape contracts could not be done on a farm by farm basis, but had to be won industry-wide.

How can the Sisters find it moral for the UFW to bypass individual farms and launch a North American grape boycott, and yet immoral and unethical for SEIU-UHW to organize workers throughout the St. Josephs system rather than by individual facilities?

FULL story at link.

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