Partnership Day at FMCS Chicago

While some SHARE staff organizers were in for the long-haul at the FMCS Conference this week, other SHARE leaders made a quick hop out to Chicago and back for the kickoff event: Partnership Day. (It made for a long day . . . but some SHARE folks had to be back for contract negotiations early the next morning.)
A strong union is necessary for
a strong partnership, says
Tom Kochan of MIT

Partnership Day showcased six union-management partnerships that have survived and even thrived for more than a decade. Two groups talked about partnerships in healthcare: Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of KP Unions, and LA County Health Agency and the Service Employees International Union. (Click here for the full list and agenda.)  

The keynote speaker for the event was former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich.

"Over and over, each group talked about how hard it is work in partnership. It's easier to go the traditional way, and be adversarial. But they also said the results are better in partnership: better for the employees, the patients, and for management," said SHARE Organizer, Janet Wilder.

SHARE Organizer Will Erickson's take-away idea was that any Labor-Management partnership--however well-developed, strategically planned, and strong it may seem--is always fragile.

Both SHARE and UMass Memorial management learned
about union-management partnerships in Chicago:
Kati Korenda, Senior Director,
Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence,
and Bobbi-Jo Lewis, SHARE Co-President
Kati Korenda of the Heart and Vascular Center told us that she was struck by the story of International Paper, which, in its long history, had its share of labor-management strife, including strikes and lockouts; at a critical moment, however, they turned around the direction of their relationship, and their partnership has led the company to new vibrancy and success.

Each time SHARE talks with union folks from Kaiser Permanente, we learn more about how we might work in partnership at UMass Memorial, and what we might get out of it. Denise Duncan, President of UNAC/AFSCME, which represents RNs in Southern California told us over dinner, 
"I was against this at first. But now I'm convinced that partnership is the way to go. We have UNAC members who work at Kaiser Permanente and at other more traditional employers, so I see the difference every day. Our members at Kaiser have better contracts, and a better experience day-to-day at work."

Partnership Day panel, with the Kaiser group on the left,
Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld,
and the LA County group on the far right.