This is not what I want to see from progressive organizations (boldface mine):
Colorado Planned Parenthood executives, with help from President Donald Trump’s labor board appointees, are fighting their health center workers’ unionization efforts in a case that could set a precedent for workers’ rights nationwide.
The case is Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood Inc. v. SEIU.
Staff for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, in coordination with SEIU Local 105, won the election for their union in December 2017. But shortly after the vote to unionize, Planned Parenthood leadership, instead of recognizing the new unit, turned to the Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board to challenge the outcome. The Planned Parenthood bosses won the first round, and the appeal will now move to the full five-member labor board.
In April, Trump labor board appointees Marvin Kaplan and Bill Emanuel sided with Planned Parenthood’s argument that the union ought to include all the clinics in the regional agency, which spans three states. Meanwhile, former President Obama’s appointee, Lauren McFerran, voted against the appeal and in favor of the workers.
“In many, if not most, instances, such daunting geographic barriers could be prohibitive to employees’ right to choose and engage in collective bargaining,” McFerran said. “Despite the employer’s failure to posit other alternatives, the [NLRB] regional director made an independent unit determination that gave geographic proximity the weight it deserved alongside the other relevant factors for multi-facility unit determinations.”
Going to the NLRB under Trump, rather than settling the matter internally, risks allowing the agency to set a precedent for other organizations. If Planned Parenthood is to prevail, it could be a setback for similar workers across the country, who may need to not just organize their own workplace, but organize people hundreds of miles away in order to be recognized…
Whitney Phillips, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said that that group is not going to the NLRB to undermine its workers, but in fact to help more of them. “We are not currently opposing efforts to organize our affiliate; we have asked the NLRB to consider whether all of our employees should be able to participate,” she told The Intercept.
But Planned Parenthood doesn’t need the NLRB’s permission to negotiate with workers at clinics in the three states. But forcing all three states to be included is a clear way to tank the effort.
I have been a long-time supporter of and contributor to Planned Parenthood. But this is wrong. One can not separate bodily, personal autonomy from financial independence; the two are inexorably linked. And the workers who will disproportionately be women who don’t make very much, despite doing important work. Of course, there is a long, sordid tradition of progressive organizations treating their workers like garbage in the name of the cause. Time to ditch that tradition (and we wonder why the progressive infrastructure is so decrepit…).
If we are still able to think back to the pre-2015 era, one reason the ‘economic left’ was angry was that progressive organizations always found a way to push workers’ concerns off. It was just never the right time for those sorts of things. But to be effective politically, you don’t screw over parts of your coalition, and that coalition needs to include labor.
I do find it encouraging that Democratic officilas, both women and men, have criticized Planned Parenthood’s stance.
Time for the people who talk about intersectionality to step up and put pressure on Planned Parenthood to do the right thing. We can’t protect women’s health without protecting their paychecks.