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May 11, 1984 - Image 6

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1984-05-11

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OPINION

Page 6
01ht Michigan Bafly
Vol. XCIV, No. 4-5
94 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Boatd
Olympian blunders
THE DECISION by the Soviet Union to not
send athletes to the Los Angeles Olympics
is just the latest in a series of major setbacks
for the international Olympic movement. This
setback, however, may just turn out to be a
full-blown disaster.
The damage this time around promises to be
far more severe than in the 1980 debacle.
Before Tuesday it was possible - if slightly
foolhardy - to dismiss the U.S. manipulations
of the 1980 games as a fluke; it was possible to
suggest that governmental interference with
the games would remain at a minimum. Now,
with two successive major power boycotts, the
use of the games as a "foreign policy tool'' has
become almost routine. The success or com-
pleteness of future games seems now to rest
on the vagaries of the relationship between the
major powers. The competition is no longer
between athletes, but between foreign
ministries.
If the Olympic Games are to continue, the
International Olympic Committee will have to
make sweeping, fundamental changes in the
way the games are organized. Somehow, the
governments of participating nations have to
be deprived of thepower to hold their teams at
home.
Such reforms, however, face a number of
major problems. First, every nation which
boycotts - or "withdraws," as the Soviets in-
sisted on calling it - believes it is completely
justified in doing so. They are very reluctant
to give up any real or perceived advantage
which they could gain through a boycott.
Second, there simply is no way to take
politics out of the games completely, sinc the
games are inherently political. Political boun-
dries define the very nature of the competition
from the earliest preparations to the closing
ceremonies. As long as a close relationship
exists between the games and national egos,
governments will almost certainly attempt to
use that relationship to their advantage.
This latest episode, however, gives the IOC
a very strong argument that there is nothing
to be gaine~d from Olympic boycotts. If it can
convince the participating nations of that, the
Olympics as we've known them may just sur-
vive.
Unsigned editorials ap-
pearing on the left. side
of this page represent a
mjority opinion of the
iily's Editorial Board.

Friday, May 11, 1984
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Labor tries a new tack

By Steve Askin
WASHINGTON - The nation's
largest nursing home chain, a
billion-dollar-a-year concern,
recently signed a peace treaty
with two big labor unions. The
agreement is a tribute to the ef-
fectiveness of a new brand. of
labor organizing.
The new approach has come
about because many unions now
have all but given up on the legal
structures erected over the last
half century that had protected
workers' right to organize.
Unionists now increasingly rely
on a complex array of tactics
known as the "corporate cam-
paign." These constitute the first
real innovation in U.S. union
organizing since the sit-down
strikes of the 1930s.
THE NEW method owes much
to the conformation style of
neighborhood-oriented "citizen
action" advocates like the late
Saul Alinsky. It involves boycotts
and careful publicity campaigns,
as well as indirect pressure
through banks and others who do
business with both the
"targeted" company and with
union pension or insurance plans.
And more and more, unions are
trying to work in concert with
churches, consumer groups, and
even the peace movement.
The recent treaty involved
Beverly Enterprises, headquar-
tered in Beverly Hills, Calif. It
runs nearly 800 nursing homes
with 70,000 employees and had
thrived by avoiding unions and
keeping labor costs low.
THE AGREEMENT sets the
stage for new organizing and
bargaining gains at the company.
It also provides a model for other
unions facing intense
management resistance.
The campaign was born of
frustration with the legalisystem.

The National Labor Relations
Board, with a backlog of more
than 1,500 cases, "has become
almost useless for trying to en-
force any meaningful rights for
employees," says Jerry Shea,
health care coordinator for the
fast-growing Service Employees
International Union.
Winning an NLRB-supervised
election is no longer enough, as
management often refuses to
bargain even after a union vic-
tory. When this happens workers
fail to geta contract 70 percent of
the time, according to an AFL-
CIO survey.~
SO THE TWO unions at
Beverly, SEIU and United Food
and Commercoal Workers, ac-
tually told organizers to stay
away from the NLRB and the
legal process. Instead, they won a
sort of crude frontier justice with
a year-long campaign combining
aggressive organizing with
political pressure and em-
barrassing exposes of alleged
improper treatment of nursing
home patients.
The recent settlement brought
an end to this part of the cam-
paign. But the organizing drive -
which has produced 28 victories
since early 1983 - will continue.
During the campaign, union
literature had denounced Beverly
for "devastating employee and
patient neglect." Company
chairman Robert Van Tuyle
countered by saying the unions
"don't give a damn about the
patients." He claimed they were
painting a "false portrait of
Beverly" because their
organizing drive was failing.
UNION SURVEYS revealed
that most workers thought
patient care was inadequate and
nearly all blamed understaffing.
So the unions made patient carea-
prime organizing issue.
The patient issue was used to
win public support. The union

issued a series of detailed reports
revealing that health authorities
in several states had given
Beverly homes below-average
ratings on patient care and found
administrative costs uncom-
monly high.
The patient-care issue makes
health care institutions - par-
ticularly the growing for-profit
chains - easy targets. Because
health care is one of the nation's
largest industries, and a leading
area for union organizing,
similar actions against other
chains can be expected.
UNIONS IN OTHER industries
are adopting the "corporate
campaign." The Carpenters
Union, striking 15 Louisiana
Pacific lumber mills, recently
took its message to Wall Street
with a demonstration involving
nearly 1,000 members and sup-
porters. But the union is not yet
seeking much outside support. As
an official explained, "The com-
pany produces items that our
people are big consumers of, so
just to mobilize our people makes
a big difference."
-There are other variations of
the new tactics. For example, in
conflicts with defense contrac-
tors like Litton Industries and
General Dynamics, the AFL-CIO
Industrial Union Department has
worked closely with church-
based peace activists. And when
Equitable Life Assurance refused
to recognize an office workers'
union which won an election at its
Syracuse, N.Y., offices in
February 1982, a number of
unions - later joined by the
National Organization for
Women - endorsed a campaign
to move pension and health plans
out of Equitable's hands.
Askin is bureau chief for the
National Catholic Reporter.
He wrote this article for
Pacific News Service.

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