Planned Parenthood Hires Union Buster to “Avoid” Employee Union

Over the weekend I posted a link to an article by The Intercept about how Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood was fighting unionization of its workers by Local 105 of the SEIU.

Planned Parenthood
PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS ASKING DONALD TRUMP’S LABOR BOARD FOR HELP BUSTING ITS COLORADO UNION

Since then I have done a little research – over at the NLRB website. And, what did I find? Planned Parenthood is represented by Fisher & Phillips, LLP, the oldest and largest employer labor law firms in the country. The firm touts its expertise and record at “union avoidance.” For those of you unfamiliar with labor euphemisms, this means union busting.

The services of such a nationwide union buster do not come cheap. Planned Parenthood is using the donations that you and I gave them to provide healthcare to women to try and bust the union.

Not one more dime until Planned Parenthood recognizes the union, negotiates with Local 105 in good faith, and reaches a contract with its employees.

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21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenver says:

    There seems to be a few nuances in the current status: the NLRB summary of its action is

    Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Inc. d/b/a PPRM  (27-RC-205940)  Denver, CO, April 16, 2018.  The Board (Members Kaplan and Emanuel; Member McFerran, dissenting) granted the Employer’s Request for Review of the Regional Director’s Decision and Direction of Election regarding the Regional Director’s finding that the petitioned-for unit is appropriate as consistent with Board precedent concerning petitioned-for multi-facility units, but denying review as to all other issues.  The Petitioner [Service Employees International Union, Local 105] had sought a multi-facility unit consisting of all of the Employer’s Colorado locations except three Southern Colorado locations.  The Employer has taken the position that the only appropriate bargaining unit is employer-wide, including its locations in all three states.  Applying the community of interest factors for multi-facility unit, the Regional Director found the petitioned-for unit to be appropriate, but with the exclusion of the Employer’s location at Salida, Colorado.  See Exemplar, Inc., 363 NLRB No. 157 (2016) (listing community-of-interest factors).   She directed a mail ballot election in this unit, with the employees voting separately in professionals and non-professional groups so that the professionals could determine whether they wished to be included in a single unit with the non-professionals.  Sonotone Corp., 90 NLRB 1236 (1950).  The Board panel (Members Kaplan and Emanuel) granted review only to determine whether the Regional Director’s finding is consistent with Board precedent concerning petitioned-for multi-facility units.  Member McFerran dissented, stating that she would find the unit found by the Regional Director to be reasonable, especially given the extensive distances (over 700 miles) between some of the included and excluded locations.  Petitioner—Service Employees International Union, Local 105.  Members McFerran, Kaplan, and Emanuel participated.

    • Pseudonymous says:

      What do you feel that the nuances are?  It's not clear to me from what you posted.

      • JohnInDenver says:

        NLRB is an independent board, with members appointed to 5 year staggered terms, and confirmed by the Senate. At the time of this hearing, NLRB had 2 Democratic appointments, 2 Republican appointments and one vacancy (now filled by a Republican). For some reason, one of the Democrats did not participate in the review or decision.

        SIEU petitioned for inclusion of most Colorado units, but exclusion of three Colorado facilities and all out of state facilities.

        RMPP responded there should be a single unit for the entire operation.

        The decision of the Regional Director was to put the Colorado units, except Salida, into the group. For some reason, the decision split the two positions, accepting some argument from each side.

        As the newest decision says, two Members of the Commission agreed to consider if the circumstances meet established precedent. One Member said the conditions for exclusion were sufficient, mentioning distance to Las Vegas. It isn't a "final" determination, by any means, but call for review. I expect the Regional Director's position has some level of presumption and it isn't clear how quickly the review will be held and decided.

        Las Vegas exclusion doesn't make immediate sense to me, as that city has a large and active SIEU presence and RMPP obviously has to have some oversight — both sides would seem able to conduct a campaign there. I have no idea why Salida should be excluded while two other remote Colorado locations should be included.

        Obviously, people can make their own decisions. But this interim step in the process doesn't strike me as a moment for going all in with a sense that RMPP is "anti-union."

    • mamajama55 says:

      It seems to me that the employer requiring SEIU to organize people in 3 states (Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico) overseen by Planned Parenthood Rocky Mtns is an excessive requirement aimed at busting the union, making it logistically impossible to organize.

      It's not up to the employer to determine how a union organizes a union. It's up to the union to determine that, based on logistics and work conditions, and of course, the employees' wishes. If Colorado locations of PPRM are represented by SEIU, probably New Mexico and Nevada will follow along in short order. Maybe that's what the board is trying to "avoid".

      I'm afraid that I agree with J Dodd – not one more dime in donations until PPRM negotiates in good faith with SEIU, and reaches a contract.

      But you should let them know why you're doing it – write or call

      For donation inquiries:

      303.813.7638 or email info.development@pprm.org

      and their media people:

      Media office:

      303.359.8519 or media@pprm.org

      By the way, Newsweek has now picked up this story:
      http://www.newsweek.com/planned-parenthood-asks-trump-administration-help-tackle-trade-union-946084

  2. mamajama55 says:

    Labor Press has an update on the Planned Parenthood / SEIU conflict.

    The board of RMPP could have just chosen to negotiate with SEIU. It's what their members wanted, and voted for.  Instead, the board of RMPP chose to appeal the extent of the bargaining unit, and went to the NLRB.

    They had to know that Trump's NLRB would be Republican – dominated (3R to 2 D, and thanks for looking that up, JohninDenver), with a Republican chairman, John Ring.

    They also knew that the NLRB was more employer -friendly and anti-worker than ever before – Trump had appointed both Kaplan and Ring as members, and they had the same mission as all other Trump cabinet appointments – to gut their department, to undo all Obama-era progress, to "MAGA" Trump style.

    One of the NLRB board's first actions was to undo an Obama rule allowing unions to organize "micro-units" within larger unit designations. This has a direct bearing on the Planned Parenthood – SEIU dispute.

    To recap: the PPRM board could have just said, "OK,  SEIU, you are the union our members elected. We will negotiate with you." Instead, per LaborPress:

    Staff for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, in coordination with SEIU Local 105, won the election for their union in December 2017. But shortly after the vote to unionize, Planned Parenthood leadership, instead of recognizing the new unit, turned to the Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board to challenge the outcome.

    Instead of choosing to negotiate the contract with their member's chosen union, the board of RMPP chose to appeal the union's bargaining scope by going to a Trump appointee dominated NLRB, which had  previously undone an Obama rule on recognizing "micro-units" (like the SEIU choice of representing only Colorado (sans Durango) and not Las Vegas or Nevada.)

    There are anecdotal reports that PP workers have been required to sit through anti-union presentations. Seems pretty clearly anti-union to me.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      Uh, about the claim " The board of RMPP could have just chosen to negotiate with SEIU. It's what their members wanted, and voted for. "

      As the bargaining unit hasn't been defined, I was not certain what sort of "vote" would have been taken. So, I went to look at the SEIU 105 website for their take. Not immediately seeing anything, I searched for "Planned Parenthood" and found one entry — claiming representation of "over 150 Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain employees"– Posted on June 24, 2011.

      So, I'm confused. If they represented employees in 2011 and are now pushing an election, did they lose a certification vote in between? Do they still represent some and are attempting to broaden representation?

      The lack of coverage on their page leads me to one other uncertainty — either SEIU isn't making a big deal of the RMPP campaign at this point or they have a poor communication staff and resulting web page. I'd guess the latter, as the most recent newsletter on their site is 2015 End of Year Newsletter Final.

      • mamajama55 says:

        I think the latter of your guesses – poor communication staff- is true, since I looked for and failed to find the same thing (date and results of elections). I don't think that SEIU could be making a false claim to represent Planned Parenthood workers, but it is difficult to find.

        Or, I could make like a journalist and call the local chapter of the SEIU (local 105) to find out.

        2011 seems to have been the year for the big SEIU / PP organizing push, which was pushed back on by PP management, at least in Oregon. https://www.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2011/08/09/local-planned-parenthood-clinics-may-unionize

        According to the Intercept article cited in the original post, the Colorado election was held in December 2017.

        https://theintercept.com/2018/05/23/planned-parenthood-union-nlrb/

        Sorry, I don’t do html in edits unless I have previous code to copy. It’s tedious.

        • JohnInDenver says:

          Going back and reading the Intercept article, there is one other angle of the "conspiracy" issue —

          A week after Emily Sirota, a candidate for Colorado House District 9, publicly reiterated her support of the organization’s unionization efforts, Planned Parenthood leadership endorsed her primary opponent Ashley Wheeland, despite Sirota’s longstanding support of reproductive rights. … both NARAL and Planned Parenthood rarely weigh in on a competitive primary between two pro-choice women. But Planned Parenthood made an exception in the Sirota-Wheeland race.

          The tidbit left out of this tendentious reporting: As Denverite pointed out, "Ashley Wheeland previously was the senior policy and political director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains."

  3. pommefemme says:

    Thank you all for this detailed commentary. I too have notified PPRM as well as PPFA that I will no longer be supporting them as a result of PPRM's action to undermine their employees' vote. Having been an employee at various PPs in the past, I understand why some of their employees could feel the need to bargain collectively. (Don't get me wrong–I was never a disgruntled employee.) Even employees of non-profit organizations deserve a living wage and overtime pay for overtime work. In any case, PPRM's 'spin' in this matter attempts to obfuscate their employees' right to choose a union with an argument that their employees should only have a union if it’s on PPRM's terms–or, if employees at all of their many locations over a huge geographic area vote in favor of such. I am sorry to see that PP affiliates have essentially become corporatized.

    • mamajama55 says:

      Thanks and welcome to Pols, pommefemme. I did write to PP's national management, and got this response:

      Thank you for reaching out. This is a complicated issue and there has been a lot of misinformation out there. Over the past year, SEIU Local 105 worked to organize only 14 of our 24 health centers (14 of 18 in Colorado, 0 of 4 in New Mexico, and 0 of 2 in Southern Nevada).

      During this time, we have communicated repeatedly our belief that all of our colleagues deserve to have their voices heard, urging SEIU to include all health center staff in any proposed bargaining unit. With less than 40% of all our health center employees voting to form a union, we asked the National Labor Relations Board to reconsider the exclusion of 10 of our health centers. We value the long history of our partnership with unions and believe in the important contributions labor makes in our communities – and we value deeply the choice of every single employee who could be impacted by the important decision to form a union.

      Sincerely, The Development Team at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains

      My response to this was:

      Union organizing needs personal presence. Organizing requires many personal, confidential face-to-face conversations. Union elections are usually on hardcopy, and kept securely by the organizer. Union meetings are typically not "digital", but need all the bodies in the same room. That has been my experience with it, and I don't think it has changed. This is for employee's security and protection.

      For the employer to insist that this personal face to face method must be broken in favor of long distance liasons, or expensive travel time, is not union-friendly.

      That is why, under Obama, the NLRB changed the rules to allow "micro-units" of organizing, and why this is a much more union-friendly strategy.

      The PPRM board, in choosing to appeal SEIU's chosen bargaining unit (the 14 health centers in north / central CO) to the NLRB, knew that they were going to a Republican -dominated, union-unfriendly board that had just voted to repeal the Obama "micro-unit" rule!

      There isn't any way this can be spun as "We were just concerned about our employees that were not covered." If y'all were that concerned about your uncovered employees, you should have made it easier, not harder, for SEIU to organize them. By not appealing the SEIU election.

      So yeah.

      Thanks for your service at PP – you were truly on the front lines. My family and I have used PP services over the years. That is such a great, brave, and caring group of people, who truly deserve better pay and working conditions than the board apparently wants to allow them to have.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        MJ & pommefemme: the religious right and the anti-abortion crowd thank you for your diligence in undermining Planned Parenthood.

        • pommefemme says:

          Not to worry, I will continue my committed support of a range of other pro-choice organizations and causes from the ACLU to NARAL. 

        • mamajama55 says:

          CHB: And you know this because…..

          Oh, I know. The right wing press is pretty excited about this story, promoting it as a "civil war on the left", etc. No, I'm not linking.

          But your objections are duly noted. I appreciate your longstanding support of women’s reproductive rights, CHB. I also understand from your prior posts that you  dislike unions, in general.
          FWIW,  PP employees chose SEIU because it is friendly to the organization's reproductive rights mission, and SEIU has helped organize against personhood and reproductive rights curtailment in several states.

          The Planned Parenthood Board did not have to question SEIU's choice of bargaining unit, to the point of appealing it to the NLRB. That's union-busting BS.  The Board could have accepted the bargaining unit, and made it easier for other clinics to organize, as well, if they were "so concerned".

          I also work for an organization with a social mission. Schools do much important work.  We are unionized because it is easy to take advantage of us because we do care so much. Oh….I forgot….you despise teacher's unions, too.

          • Conserv. Head Banger says:

            As often happens, it is difficult to debate with MJ due to her twisting facts around. In the past, I have said that unions have generally outlived their usefulness–big difference between “despising” or “disliking.” When I was working, I got hit up several times per year to join AFSCME. No point in joining because all they wanted was my money, as there was no collective bargaining with my agencies at the time. Worth noting that a teachers union is not really similar to a union that might represent PP workers, or workers in similar clinics, due to different issues and work environments.

            Bottom line is that you would rather be "pure of heart" and oppose an organization, that does many great things for women and female reproductive rights, over a union thing. As the "orange haired fool" in the White House might say,  Sad.

            As for pomme femme, the organizations you cite are not direct service providers to women in need. Perhaps you would rather have the so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" that oppose abortion providing their "services" for women in need? 

            • mamajama55 says:

              I don't "oppose" Planned Parenthood; but I will stop my donations until they start negotiating with their employee's chosen union.

              In my mind, the lady or gentleman at the front desk who is dealing with stressed people and possible psychokillers walking in the front door, deserves whatever union he/she wants to represent them.

              Those employees deserve a living wage, good benefits, defined working conditions rather than uncompensated overtime, which is what they're getting now.

              I'm not particularly "pure". Real purists think I'm a sell-out moderate that promotes the terrible Democratic Party. Must be doing something right if I piss off people on both ends.

              As far as your own anti-union history, I seem to remember you opposing the Jeffco teachers activism around their board, because you don't have kids in Jeffco schools and shouldn't pay for the tax increase; and you oppose postal workers in general because you think that the post office would be best privatized. Do I have it right?

               

              • Conserv. Head Banger says:

                MJ: I voted for a tax increase and bond issue for JeffCo schools in 2004. Never again. The money was grossly misused in just my part of the county, leveling perfectly good buildings for new ones instead of doing renovations of buildings in reasonably good shape. The motto, led by the teachers' union, was "Do It For The Kids." Well, the money didn't exactly go where it was promised; it went for glass and concrete memorials to overzealous administrators.

                Fast forward to the Great Recession. The District called in teachers, parents, other employees, for discussions on needed cuts. Big surprise: no average citizens were invited to the table. Once again, taxation without representation. I ended up voting for the conservative slate afterwards. Unfortunately, they showed THEIR true colors with a lot of far right wing b.s. for the curriculum. I voted to recall Julie Williams, but not the other two.

                As for the postal unions, a good friend of mine is a retired manager at USPS. He couldn't even fire workers who had been caught drugging and selling on office time due to union pressure. And where else can someone get skilled worker pay for semi-skilled work? Look it up in the U.S. Department of Labor's Dictionary of Occupational Titles. I’ve never advocated for privatization of the postal service (there you go again, making it up as you go along). Privatization would be a bad deal for rural America. But cutting out routine Saturday deliveries to save money might work.

                • mamajama55 says:

                  It seems we both have some misconceptions about what the other believes. Plenty of shades of gray there.

                  Well,  I'm off to be a middle of the road Democrat today at our Big Tent event. As a practical matter, that's where the work is. However, I think we do have to keep speaking for what we really want, too.

                  In the case of RMPP,  being a union shop with good working conditions and pay, and continuing and improving PP's reproductive rights mission, are not mutually exclusive goals….it's not a zero sum game.

            • pommefemme says:

              Glad to hear that you are such a supporter of women's reproductive rights. PP is a complex organization with multiple funding streams. Since I have mainly (with the exception of supporting PP International) donated to their Action Fund, redirecting my support to other advocacy groups is not going to deprive women of medical care. As far as I know, donations aren't used to provide direct patient care in the US. If PPRM couldn't foresee that anti-choice groups would seize on their actions vis-a-vis SEIU, that was short-sighted and they certainly invited it. I might be a single-issue voter, but I abhor the tribalism that permeates our politics these days. Failing to call out actions like those of PPRM would be no different than the GOP failing to call out 'the orange-haired fool'.

              I would have to disagree with you about unions having lost their usefulness. Could there be an association between stagnant wage growth in the US and the weakening of unions? Though I'm not a big fan of SEIU, and I don't know enough about AFSCME to hold an opinion, I find that teachers', nurses' and other professionals' unions advocate for a public good in addition to that of their members. 

              Furthermore, having worked in both unionized and non-unionized facilities–as well as on both sides of the union divide–I have found the unionized workplaces to be overall more accountable and professional. Wherever I've seen workers unionized it was always for a good reason! (Again, speaking from both sides of the divide.)

              But thank you for adding some impetus to my wanting to get out there and pound the pavement in front of a fake clinic. Do you think I could ask PP for some printed materials on pregnancy options?

               

              • JohnInDenver says:

                Planned Parenthood donations do fund care. "Donations from patients are welcome and appreciated at the time of your visit. Your donations help us provide affordable health care to women, men, and teens who cannot afford to pay for all or part of their care."

                Particularly in the case of abortions, government funds cannot be used and PP serves a broad range of clients. They say: "The Justice Fund can provide some grant assistance for women receiving an abortion. Assistance is based upon financial status."

                • pommefemme says:

                  From what I understand, the Justice Fund was created by NNAF–to help pay for abortions in those states which do not allocate state Medicaid $$ to help poor people pay for abortions. These can be at PPs or at other non-PP clinics. Perhaps PP accepts donations on their behalf…. perhaps.

                  As for your quote about donations, I would suggest this statement be interpreted very broadly. Helping to provide affordable health care to women is likely to mean that you're helping them to keep their doors open. If only by helping fund their public education roles–that too defined very broadly. They do not state that donations actually fund the cost of the health services they provide to women. In the end, contributing to other organizations that fight along side PP to keep reproductive health services available to women also supports PP indirectly.

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