A flyer recently circulated at some nursing stations at St. Joseph’s in Orange, ostensibly signed by Vivian Norman and referencing the Facebook page of “Guardians of SJO Legacy”. It contains some pretty serious assertions, including personal attacks.

Click to embiggen, as they say.














In responding, I’ll assume the best about this communication:

— That it actually is composed by Vivian, duplicated at her own expense

— That she actually believes what she says and has a detached concern about organizing bedside nurses, though she is not a bedside nurse and would take no part in the union if it were recognized, and just needs a little enlightenment

I’ll attempt to provide such enlightenment.
The most troublesome part is the personal attack:

“Just think about this for a minute: if (God forbid) the CNA was voted in: who do you think would want to take the job of the “union rep”? You guessed it: the most pro-union people, those people who are intimidating you, pressuring you, sitting in the cafeteria, tackling you in the parking structure. Do you want them to be the third person in the room, when you are trying to get your schedule fixed? Do you want someone else there to try to decide what is fair?”

Gee, that’s really scary: “sitting in the cafeteria”.

Quite aside from the fact that union reps are democratically elected, the accusation of “tackling” would be libelous if names were mentioned.  No CNA employee or supporting nurse has ever assaulted anyone in the process of organizing.

The reference to “Intimidating, pressuring” is of well-known origin.  Some nurses who have done some organizing for CNA have recently been “counseled” by their supervisors about how some people feel “intimidated” by them. Such complaints are often anonymous, of course. No right to face your accuser. It’s like Fox News reporting that the Washington Times reported that Andrew Breitbart reported that ACORN was caught in criminal conversation. Make up a story, repeat it enough, and the reporting becomes the story. Forget that the story has no merit. There might be someone somewhere who feels “intimidated” by these nurses, but that says nothing about whether their behavior could reasonably cause intimidation.

Now, let’s run through some other themes mentioned in the flyer, most of which are pretty common for this sort of communication:


How it should follow from this that employees shouldn’t have any collective bargaining power is not explained. “Non-profit” is a tax status. All it really means is that they don’t pay taxes, and they’ve done some things to qualify for that status. There’s a world full of greedy non-profits that exist mainly for the purpose of paying large salaries to the people controlling them. That’s not to say St. Jo is one of them, only how little the word “non-profit” means.

“I believe that each of the Sisters’ wages are below our own employees (!)”

What Vivian believes might or might not be true, but in any case, the Sisters have taken a vow of poverty. Their retirement and health care are guaranteed for life, and they have no children to support. Do you want everyone to be a nun? It’s difficult to say how much the Sisters still have to do with running the massive corporation and its hospitals. Are any of them administrators? The CEO is definitely not a Sister.


“I don’t know how much money our CEO makes, but it is probably a little more than the average worker. Don’t you believe that the CEO deserves a little bit more than the rest of us? I certainly do. I want to have the best talent to manage our hospital, to keep us on the right track, to strategically plan for our future. (I don’t want that job- so much responsibility, and pressure …. ) “

It’s difficult to take this seriously. I hope it’s a joke. In 2012, the latest year for which I could easily find numbers, the CEO of St. Joseph Health got a bit more than $2 million.   See Page 41:


This often comes up when highly skilled, in-demand workers want to organize, and its rationale is never really explained.

Since owners and top managers are VERY well-organized, and there’s nothing we can do to change that, why should a large segment of workers be excluded from organizing as a force to balance that?

Raising labor standards anywhere helps to raise them everywhere.  Without strong existing unions exerting their influence to make favorable labors laws, it’s more difficult for ALL workers to organize.


The bogie man of some “union rep” intervening everywhere when you might talk to a manager, and of being treated “all the same” might be effective if one thinks “I’m special, destined for something more than these fools around me.”, but a little social maturity can cure that. There are times when anyone might wish for a representative to speak for them, for the same reason that a defendant is entitled to a lawyer.  Shop stewards don’t like extra work any more than most people, and encourage people to talk directly to the manager and try to work it out before making an issue of it.


If your idea of being treated well is that nurses are “not living in poverty”, I can concede that. Some people would like a little more for the expense of attaining and maintaining a nursing license, and performing one of the more stressful and dangerous jobs out there.

Whatever one might think of “Magnet status”, whether it should be a floor or a ceiling, for instance, it is no substitute for bargaining power. Many CNA hospitals have “Magnet status”, including UCI, the first Magnet-certified hospital in Orange County.


It is very unethical to treat nurses in a way that would induce them to strike. With a union, a strike would occur only with a majority vote of the members at the facility. Without a union, striking is a much less orderly process. Strikes are rare in CNA’s history.

This entry was posted in communication, organizing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Fullerton Observer says:

    Wow – Thanks for sending this! Sharon

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