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SEIU surveys the residents

Posted May 29 2009 10:16pm
This week, residents at our hospital received an email survey request from the SEIU. Does this mean the union is thinking about organizing the residents, or does it hope to obtain responses that would be helpful in a corporate campaign? Some residents wondered how SEIU has the resources to obtain their email addresses and also how it can afford to conduct this kind of survey. The answer, as I have noted before, is because it can.

Dear Residents of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center,

As part of its effort to organize hospital workers in Boston, 1199SEIU has been reaching out to residents and attendings to better understand the joys and challenges of working at academic medical centers in Boston. As the end of your residency is near, we would like to give you the opportunity to tell us about your own residency experience. We would appreciate your thoughts on compensation for your residency and a few current healthcare policy issues.


Please consider filling out the following survey; it is brief and shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. Your name and personal information will be kept confidential. Responses will be compiled in the aggregate.

One resident wrote me the following note:

Should I respond to this survey and tell them the truth how enjoyable it truly is to work at BIDMC, how the salaries are fair for the market, and other generally positive things or would they simply use this to twist any words I said to the negative?

I feel that you have done a better than outstanding job at defending the management of this hospital through the budget crisis across the country and at being in touch with all employees about the day-to-day challenges of running a hospital; very much in the spirit of transparency, I think.

My gut tells me to toss the below e-mail in the garbage with an unsubscribe order, but my heart tells me to tell the positive truth. What should I do?

Of course, I made clear that this is a matter of personal preference. Here's the survey. Anyone can fill it out. I'll help you with the answers I would give:

Q. During your residency at BIDMC did you have the opportunity to negotiate you (sic) salary and/or benefits?
A. I believe that, under the national rules of residency selection, this is not permitted.

Q. Were you required to take a pay cut as part of the [BIDMC] budget cutbacks?
A. No, residents were exempt from any cuts. See here, paragraph 24.

Q. Should residents have been asked to take a pay cut as part of the budget cutbacks?
A. No, but is SEIU advocating a reduction in residents' pay? Ditto, paragraph 25.

Q. Do you think that BIDMC would respect employees' desire to form a union?
A. What do you mean by desire? Do you mean by a secret ballot election? Or do you mean under the SEIU's proposal to eliminate secret ballot elections or limit debate during elections? If the latter, how would you know what the employees' desire actually is?
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