The residents and interns at Mass General Hospital in Boston have been pushing for a union drive to improve their working conditions and patient care. However, the hospital has been using anti-union “persuaders” to coerce employees to vote against unionizing. LaborLab uncovered that Joseph Brock and Eric Vanetti are the individuals being paid $400 an hour to discourage unionization. Brock has a history of union busting in the healthcare industry, including at San Diego Family Care, Camerena Health, Community Health System, Innercare, and Maine Medical Center.
What is particularly alarming is that both Brock and Vanetti list notorious union-busting firm Jackson Lewis as their client, in addition to Mass General. Jackson Lewis has a long history of working to dismantle unions and is known for taking advantage of the “advice loophole” to avoid being named in Department of Labor disclosures. This loophole allows law firms and clients to claim that they are providing “advice” rather than directly busting unions. This preposterous claim highlights the urgent need to reinstate the Persuader Rule, which requires employers to disclose when they hire outside consultants to try to influence workers’ decisions about whether to join a union.
The residents and interns at Mass General are demanding better patient care and working conditions, as they are consistently overworked, underpaid, and used as stopgaps in the face of widespread understaffing. They filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on April 4, after Mass General declined voluntary recognition and dragged out the unionization process. With over 2,500 residents, they are using their numbers to demand change not only at Mass General but also in the wider healthcare industry.
The resources Mass General is putting into its union-busting campaign are not uncommon. Amazon has spent a whopping $14,279,056, and hospitals like McLean Hospital and Rochester Health Center have also spent significant amounts on anti-union “persuaders.” The fact that hospitals, which are meant to prioritize patient care, are spending large amounts to prevent their own employees from unionizing is concerning and highlights the need for stronger labor protections.
The situation at Mass General Hospital serves as a reminder of the challenges facing workers who want to unionize, particularly in industries with a history of anti-union sentiment. The involvement of Jackson Lewis and the amount of money being spent to prevent unionization highlight the urgent need for reinstating the Persuader Rule and stronger labor protections. It is crucial that we listen to the voices of frontline workers who are organizing for a safer and more just working environment for themselves and their patients.
Published April 27, 2023