Work’s Meaning and Labor’s Power
This book explores the tension between worker power and workers’ emotional relationship to their work by focusing on workers’ union organizing efforts at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital (SRMH), a Catholic hospital in California, between 2004 and 2010. Since its founding in 1950, SRMH has been owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, a group of nuns who preside over thirteen hospitals in California, New Mexico, and Texas that together make up the not-for-profit St. Joseph Health System (SJHS). In some ways the hospital is the modern factory, and labor organizing in the hospital is similar to organizing at any other large industrial workplace. In other ways, the work that goes on in the hospital is loaded with emotion and meaning, giving struggle in the hospital a special character. This book argues that for unions to remain relevant in the hospital industry and beyond, they must recognize the cultural dimension of labor struggle and must be concerned as much with putting forward a vision of the public good as with winning material advantage.
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