With God on Our Side
The Struggle for Workers' Rights in a Catholic Hospital
Reich, Adam D.
Date Written: 2012-03-01
Publisher: Cornell University Press, Ithaca, USA
Year Published: 2012
Pages: 192pp ISBN: 978-0-8014-5066-2
Library of Congress Number: RA975.C37R445 2012 Dewey: 362.11088
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX16270
Adam D. Reich tells the story of a five-year campaign to unionize Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, a Catholic hospital in California.
When unions undertake labor organizing campaigns, they often do so from strong moral positions, contrasting workers' rights to decent pay or better working conditions with the more venal financial motives of management. But how does labor confront management when management itself has moral legitimacy? In With God on Our Side, Adam D. Reich tells the story of a five-year campaign to unionize Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, a Catholic hospital in California. Based on his own work as a volunteer organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Reich explores how both union leaders and hospital leaders sought to show they were upholding the Catholic "mission" of the hospital against a market represented by the other. Ultimately, workers and union leaders were able to reinterpret Catholic values in ways that supported their efforts to organize.
More generally, Reich argues that unions must weave together economic and cultural power in order to ensure their continued relevancy in the postindustrial world. In addition to advocating for workers' economic interests, unions must engage with workers' emotional investments in their work, must contend with the kind of moral authority that Santa Rosa Hospital leaders exerted to dissuade workers from organizing, and must connect labor’s project to broader conceptions of the public good.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Work's Meaning and Labor's Power
1. The Labor of Love: Vocational Commitments in the Hospital
2. Losing It: The Limits of Economic Interests and Political Power
3. A Struggle over New Things: Contesting Catholic Teaching
4. Winning the Heart Way: Organizing and Cultural Struggle
5. Trouble in the House of Labor: Alternative Visions of New Unionism
Conclusion: What Should Unions Do?