Archive for April, 2015

A lot’s been “said” in print about the recent vote to unionize/not-unionize the RNs at Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH). If you’d listened to the California Nurses Association (CNA) and many of their vociferous supporters you’d think that it was HMH management that was trying to suppress the vote, but you’d be wrong. You may wonder how I came to this conclusion, simple by looking at the outcome of the NLRB-led and supervised April 15th – 16th election. The unofficial outcome of the vote was as follows – 539 No to 445 Yes with 176 Challenged ballots. There are 176 ballots left to be counted and were challenged by either HMH or the CNA, which is their prerogative. However, if you’re a “true believer” of the CNA party line you might assume that it’s HMH that has challenged the lion’s share of the 176 ballots, but you’d be wrong. It’s my understanding that HMH has challenged only five that’s right five of the 176 challenged ballots, leaving 171 votes challenged by the CNA, that’s right the CNA is the side that has chosen to challenge the largest number of ballots. On the bright side, it looks like pretty much every eligible RN who was entitled to vote did just that with only about 40 nurses abstaining. This, in my humble opinion, is proof that contrary to the heated rhetoric of the past several months show that the HMH RN’s felt free to vote! Now why would the CNA, the nursing union that kept spewing the “just let the nurses vote” mantra at every media source they could find and painting HMH as some kind of boogey man when it came to the nurses voting on the issue of whether or not to unionize, challenge so many ballots? Why, because they feared that the majority of these 171 ballots were not in favor of the union and thus their strategy was to challenge these ballots, thus hopefully swinging the outcome of the vote in their favor. However it would appear that this strategy might have backfired. We should know the final results on April 27th and if the NO votes win the day the CNA will of course respect the nurses will – NOT! They’ve already made it clear (just take a peek at their newest flyer handed out the very next day – CNA Flyer) that they plan to continue their campaign to unionize the RNs at HMH – so much for “just let the nurses vote”. Hypocrite, thy name is the CNA.

I would hope that Professor Dreier is a better fact checker of his instructional material than he is of his columns, because in his above entitled column he failed to fact check the statements about me provided to him in all likelihood by the California Nurses Association (CNA).

Not only does he mangle the name of my company (it’s Solutions Outside the Box, not Outside the Box Solutions), he also falsely accuses me of having been hired by Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH) to as he puts it “to harass and intimidate nurses and undermine their organizing efforts”. I’ve not received, been paid, promised, etc., a single red cent by Huntington Memorial Hospital. I’ve also not engaged in any way shape or form to harass or intimidate any HMH nurse. The CNA (whose leadership fears me as well as any nurse willing to stand up to their machinations) is always happy to spread lies and untruths – in short they know that I’m not being compensated but they are happy to say I am because more often then not the folks that support them (like Prof. Dreier) don’t bother to fact check the information that the CNA spoon feeds them.

Prof. Dreier goes on in his column to illustrate, as so often happens when ideologues from either side of the political spectrum get their “panties in a wad” to tell the tale of woe of their favorite side and ignore the experiences from the other side of the discussion. So, since Prof. Dreier’s fact checking is lacking let me set a few things straight.

First, I was contacted by several HMH nurses that wanted to learn what their options were to avoid a union. In that spirit, I met with a group who came on their own time and dime to learn what resources and recourses they had to provide a counter-point to the “let’s join a nursing union” advocates. They didn’t pay me a red cent. I did however secure the domain name of their group, to ensure that it couldn’t be co-opted for other uses, but it’s the IStandWithHuntington nurses that run it and moderate it.

Second, I know that many of the “we don’t need or want to join the union” nurses have shared stories of being followed, tires being slashed, secure areas (key-card accessible only areas) doors of the hospital being propped opened with orange traffic cones bearing the name of hospitals other than HMH have been reported. One nurse who has vocally opposed the CNA returned to her station to find that someone had left feces on her chair. In case you think she imagined such a disgusting act, a third party observed a pro-union nurse committing the act. As for the incident that Prof. Dreier states occurred in the HMH cafeteria, I understand that there is a video of the event and from what has been described to me the pro-CNA nurses weren’t just sitting politely at a table, but instead were blocking egress to the cafeteria and one of their supporters went so far as to go over to the IStandWithHuntington group in a confrontational manner to verbal abuse the nurses for not coming along with the program. So it would appear that there might be bad actors on both sides, which is why such a campaign often leaves open wounds in its wake regardless of which side prevails.

Third, Prof. Dreier parrots the plea for “just let the nurses vote”, but what he fails to inform his readers is that the CNA doesn’t want to let all eligible nurses vote, they want to pick and chose which nurses can vote and they do this by challenging a particular nurses’ vote. When the NLRB called the election the first thing the CNA did was challenge the right of the Patient Flow Coordinators (PFC) to cast a ballot. The NLRB didn’t agree and said the PFC’s could vote but that their ballot would be a different color (a Scarlet letter so to speak), segregated from the other ballots and only counted if the vote was close. Then the CNA, not happy with this, made it clear they planned to “challenge” some of but not all of the PFC ballots – guess which one they didn’t want counted. Finally, the CNA declared that they didn’t want any PFC ballot counted, even though theses nurses if the CNA prevailed would fall under the CNA representation. So I guess when the CNA stomps their feet and shout “just let all the eligible nurses vote” what they really meant to say was “Just let the ones we say have the right to vote, cast a ballot”.

Back in the day when I was a professor of Nursing the need to fact check our information was considered paramount. Perhaps the same exacting standards aren’t required for Prof. Dreier’s department of Urban & Environmental Policy or Occidental College – one would hope not.

You can read Dreier’s column here –

Tornek for Mayor!

It takes a strong person to admit a mistake.

Yeah, I know – didn’t I blog all that long ago to not vote for Terry Tornek for Mayor, and you’d be right. Except, two things happened since then. The first being that my candidate of choice back then was Dan Morgan and after the general election he came in third leaving only the top two vote getters to move to the April 21st run-off. And second of the two remaining candidates, Terry Tornek and Jacque Robinson, Tornek in my opinion is the better candidate.

During the run-off period I and several other individuals had the opportunity to met with both candidates, on different days of course. The reason for the meetings was an item of concern to us as a group, and Tornek when asked agreed immediately, emailing me by the next day with dates and times that worked for him, while Robinson appeared to take her time deciding whether or not she would grace us with her presence, but at the last moment emailed a day and time that she could meet with less than a 24-hour window in which to let everyone else know. The topic of our discussion would be the concerns of the nurses from the other side of the whether or not to form a nursing union at our local hospital, Huntington Memorial.

The CNA had played their usual dirty PR game, demonizing the hospital management, accusing the hospital of providing poor care and of course getting local elected officials, religious leaders and community members to come out to these “demonstrations” and calling for “fair elections” and “just let the nurses vote”. Of course both Robinson and Tornek came out to one or more of these demonstrations, so for the nurses coming to the meetings with Robinson and Tornek it was very significant because until that time no nurse who didn’t want a union had had the opportunity to speak to either Tornek or Robinson so they were anxious to have their voices and concerns heard.

As luck would have it we met with Robinson first, the meeting was brief and it was apparent from her body posture that the meeting was pro-forma. Robinson listened but parroted the “just let the nurses vote” line, ignoring that the vote was already tainted with all the demonstrations and that the CNA had already challenged the right of some of the nurses to vote – so much for a fair election and letting the nurses vote. In short she might have appeared to listen to our concerns but most of our group came away with the impression that her side was picked and her decision well made, and we shouldn’t burden her with new information. After one of her patented just let them vote,” I finally told her that she was being flippant. I told her that as an elected official her duty is to represent union as well as non-union constituents. So strong was this vibe that a couple folks from our group said it wasn’t even worth their time to meet with Tornek.

Our meeting with Tornek followed many days later and where Robinson seemed stiff and distant, Tornek appeared relaxed and engaged. He gave us nearly an hour of his time and seemed to be taking great interest in our concerns – this didn’t necessarily mean that he supported our point of view, but it didn’t leave us with the feeling that we were beating our heads against a brick wall.

At a recent debate Robinson kept telling the audience that she was willing to have difficult conversations, but when asked by one of the panelist how she could (and let me paraphrase) on the one hand be endorsed and supported by the police union when it had sued to block the release of the independent review of the police shooting of McDade an unarmed teenager from our community. She never did answer the panelist’s question – I guess this was one difficult discussion she wasn’t willing to have.

I like to think that I’m capable of integrating new information and adjusting my conclusions based on that information which is why tonight my daughters and I are going to complete our mail in ballots – selecting Tornek for Mayor of Pasadena. I hope that all my Pasadena friends that are registered to vote will do the same as well, because we need an individual who can and is willing to represent all Pasadena residents!