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CURRENT ISSUE:  August 4, 2008
VOL. 46, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Vatican approves new translation for parts of Mass
Pope, al-Maliki discuss Iraq peace
Health care union pickets
labor-friendly St. Joseph Sisters

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A health care workers union and its allies picketed a California order of women religious historically known for its support of labor causes, protesting what the union claims are harassment and intimidation tactics in an effort to keep a union from forming in several of the hospitals run by the sisters.

The picketing came as the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange gathered for their annual community days at their motherhouse in Orange, July 20-26.

Protesters from United Healthcare Workers, employees from the St. Joseph Health System, high-profile political activists and politicians called on the nuns to allow their employees to vote if they want to form a union without coercion from their supervisors.

A spokeswoman from the St. Joseph Health System told Catholic News Service July 28 the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange are not anti-union, but will not enter into a mass organizing agreement until the union can demonstrate that at least 35 percent of the employees want the union, a requirement set by the National Labor Relations Board.

“It’s not a simple matter,” said Adriana Lynch, senior vice president of marketing and communications for St. Joseph Health System. “The Sisters need to take into consideration all of the parties involved. That includes the workers who want to be represented by the UHW, the workers who want another union, the workers who don’t want a union at all, and the other unions.”

The United Healthcare Workers union has been trying since 2004 to establish union representation at five hospitals in the St. Joseph Health System, which has 13 health care facilities in three states.

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