Page 16

THE ANCHOR-Diocese of. Fall River~Thurs., July 16, H'64

Says Hospital Employees

Have Right to 'Negotiate

By Msgr. George G. Higgins . A prominent M.D. recently warned that the unioniz­ ation of hospital employees is a threat to the continued progress of American hospitals. Speaking at the opening session of the 17th annual meeting of the Conference of Catholic Schools of Nursing, employees, it seems to me, are Dr. John C. Leonard, Direc­ entitled to negotiate an agree­ tor of Medical Education at ment· with their employers­ the Hartford (Conn.) Hos­ p.referably, I might add, through

... '

pital, maintained that the pres­ ent hospital atmosphere of high morale, wit h the patient as the constant fo­ eus of service, is likely to dis­ appear, or will be seriously im­

paired, if hos­ pitals "are sub­ jected to union­ ization whereby Iii sense of re­ sPOnsibility dis­ appears in the face of demands for selfish (?) rights and privileges." A similar warning against the unionization of hospital employ­ ees is going the rounds these days in the form of a 28-point mimeographed mem­ orandum drafted by the Secre­ tary of Hospitals in a Midwest­ ern diocese. T his avowedly anti-union memorandum, which warns its readers to "plan as though the worst could occur" and advises titem "it could happen here" was presumably meant for pri­ vate circulation among hospitall administrators. Inevitably, however, it has come to the attention of a num­ ber of interested labor leaders and, needless to add, has dis­ turbed them no end. They right­ ly object not only to the sub­ stance of the document, but also to its consistently anti-un:ion rhetoric. 'Employees Committee' The memorandum in question advises hospital administrators who are faced with an organiz­ ing drive among their employees -to settle for a so-called "employ­ ees committee" as the lesser of two evils. The purpose of such a committee, it points out, is "to -present the employee's problems, grievances or suggestion." But the memorandum hastens !flO add, with underscoring for emphasis, that "it is not a con­ sulting committee, and definite. ly it neither renders decisions nor concurs in them." The memorandum concludes 8S follows: "Our employees have their rights which we are obliged to respect. But labor unions and social justice are Dot synonymous. Social justice may be had without unions. Our responsibility is not to unionize, but to practice social justice towards our employees." Written Agreement Whether or not social justice requires the unionization of hos­ pital employees is a case which, in my judgement, cannot be an­ swered across the board with an llnqualified "yes" or "no." But prescinding from this point for present purposes, I ,would argue that a so-called "employees committee" of the type referred to above is really 110thing more than a "company union." And a "company union," in my judgment, leaves much to be desired from the point ()f 9iew of social justice. At the very least, hospital

Abbot Heads College BELMONT (NC) Abbott Walter A. Coggin, D.S.B., of Belmont Abbey will take over the duties of president of Bel­ mont Abbey College here in North Carolina for a year begin­ Ding Aug. 1.

a bona fide union of their own choice. They also have a right to ask that this agreement be put in writing, so that there will be no reasonable doubt as to i.ts meaning and scope. In return, they can be expected to fore!~o the right to strike.

Wages Are Costs The usual argument against collective bargaining for ho:>­ pital employees is that hospitals, as non-profit institutions, are faced with peculiar financial problems, which differ in kind from the financial problems of profit-making institutions. While it is true, of course, that hospitals are faced witl: special financial problems, I do not see the relevance of these problems to the question of written versus non-written col­ lective bargaining contract:;. Wages are costs which must be considered among the necessary operating expenses of a hospita l. They are not shares of profits; hence the non-profit character of hospitals or similar institu­ tions is an irrelevant factor. Nor is the uncertainty of hos­ pital income a determining fac·· tor. Corporations and other bus­ iness firms which are run fo.r profit also have uncertain in-­ comes. Income prospects ma~r and should often be considered in negotiating wages. . But doubts in this regard ar~~ no reason to refuse a written and stable wage agreement. II adjustments need to be mad~! during the term of the collectiv(! bargaining contract because o:E insufficient income, procedure!; for making such adjustments should be part of the mutuallJ' agreed upon contract. Contract for Supplies It should be pointed out, in, this connection, that no othel' cost factor in the operation of ll. hospital is contingent upon in-, come. Medical supplies, fuel, drugs, appliances, insurance and the like must be bought and paid for at the going rate, and fre­ quently the hospital must sign written agreements with the suppliers of these goods and ser­ vices. Why should hospital em­ ployees be put in a less advan­ tageous position than the seller;; of these supplies and impersonal

services?

It is pertinent to note, in con­

clusion, that many other non­

profit organizations, both Cath­

olic and non-sectarian, have

long since negotiated written collective bargaining contracts with their employees. Catholic cemeteries are a good case ill point. As a matter of fact, there Is even one Chancery office ill which the clerical employees, with the encouragement and blessing of the Archbishop, be­ long to a bona fide union and have signed a written contract with their employer. o

Joint 'Meeting

KURESEONG (NC)-A joint Catholic-Protestant meeting on Christian social action problems was held at St. Mary's Institute here in India operated by the Jesuit Fathers. The 15-man Protestant delegation was led by Prof. Clifford J. Hindley of Serampore College and Kenyon E. Wright of the Calcutta Ecu­ menical Social and Industrial In­ 8titute.

Super-Right Quality

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STAINLESS STEEL: This six·.foot four-inch high stain­ les~, steel statue of the Jesuit missionary and explorer, Fr. Jacques Marquette, has been. pre3ented to J~hn Carroll University, conducted by the Jesuit Fathers in Cleveland, Ohio. NC Photo..

CCltholic Students GE~t CSF Aid

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school students have part.icipated in all facets of Fall River's Citizens' Scholar­ ship Foundation, noted"Dr. Irv­ ing A. Fradkin, founder of the nationally famous organization, in a report on the seventh annu­ al seholarship awards progl'am. HE' noted that Catholic stu­ dent; have aided in the clerical work necessary to keep the foun :lation functioning and that Catholic schools and churches in al'eas throughout the country where the program has been in­ troduced have been outstanding in their efforts to aid deserving young men and women. At one time, 'he said, inquiries to the Fall River national head­ quaeers of the CSF reached Ii total of 5,000 weekly and stu­ dent!1 from area schools were in­ valmible in their assistance to the clerical staff. Currently receiving scholar­ ship aid from the foundation are 33 graduates of Fall River Cath­ olic .~gh schools. Twenty-three students are attending Catholic colleges and schools of nursing.

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Assert Racial Bias HUI·ts All Children WASHINGTON (NC) - Rac­ ial discrimination hurts white childl'en as well as Negro chil­ dren, and white parents must take;teps to protect their chil­ dren from its evil influence" This stand was taken by one of 10 "commissions" which di&­ cussed the rights of children i. various areas during the 29th. national convention sponsored by the Family Life Bureau of the National Catholic Welfal'e Conference. The commission on "the right of th1~ child to emotional and physieal well being" was the one which stressed the duty of white paren;s to keep their children from being influenced by prej­ udice. Special efforts along this line are needed in the largely all-white suburbs where chil­ dren have little or no contact with members of minorit,. groupli, the group said..

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PLAID ST1AMPS 11

07.16.64  

~issio~ who will work out A Retreat for the Handi­ capped, first such event to be sponsored by the Fall River Diocese, will be held fruitful...

07.16.64  

~issio~ who will work out A Retreat for the Handi­ capped, first such event to be sponsored by the Fall River Diocese, will be held fruitful...

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