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With God on Our SideThe Struggle for Workers' Rights in a Catholic Hospital$
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Adam D. Reich

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450662

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450662.001.0001

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Winning the Heart Way

Winning the Heart Way

Organizing and Cultural Struggle

(p.103) 4 Winning the Heart Way
With God on Our Side

Adam D. Reich

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) successfully expanded the scope of conflict beyond the workplace by engaging broader religious and political communities in a campaign for a “fair election agreement” between 2005 and 2009. It shows that SEIU, by building a coalition of Catholic religious leaders who became spokespeople for Catholic social teaching on the rights of workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital (SRMH), was able to challenge the St. Joseph Health System’s monopoly on moral authority in the hospital. This chapter discusses the creative ways SEIU built and made use of this coalition, along with the tensions involved in these sorts of labor-community alliances. It also considers the support of Catholic religious leadership for SEIU’s cultural struggle and labor organizing activities and how the role of hospital workers changed as the campaign’s focus shifted from workplace to altar.

Keywords:   fair election agreement, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph Health System, hospital workers, religious leadership, labor organizing, cultural struggle

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