The Limits of Economic Interests and Political Power
This chapter examines labor organizing efforts at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital (SRMH) between 2004 and 2005 and how workers’ desire for voice in the hospital relates to their emotional investment in their work. It considers the concept of “voice” as an important component of the hospital workers’ unionization drive and shows how the Service Employees International Union’s campaign initially engaged workers’ frustration over a lack of power more than it did workers’ emotional commitment to hospital work. It also explains how SRMH’s antiunionism enabled the hospital to marginalize prounion worker leaders, intimidate union supporters, undermine union strategy, and frame the union as having interests that were opposed to the well-being of patients, the hospital, and the community. Finally, the chapter discusses the union’s political strategy as it moved from the workplace to the broader community. This analysis sheds light on what distinguished the ideological struggle from the strategies of more standard social movement unionism.
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