Early Attempts to Organize Johns Hopkins
Regional Directors Analysis of Activities and
Developments in Region 4:
Our current effort to bring about organization of the
"housekeeping" employees of the major hospitals in
Baltimore is meeting with a considerable degree of success,
while at the same time eliciting expressions of dissatisfaction
from two business agents because of their belief that the staff
working in this campaign should sign up the workers on a variety
of union membership cards. On all such demands we refer them to
discussion with BSEIU [Building Service Employees International
Actual organizing activities have been more or less
limited to the Johns-Hopkins Hospital, but we find that the
workers of one hospital make frequent contact with workers in
other hospitals and; consequently, organizational interest is
developing in a number of the hospitals through their ability to
secure membership application cards from our several
departmental organizing committees.
Despite any success achieved in organization, the job of
gaining recognition for BSEIU will be a difficult one. On the
local level we have conferred in the regional Office with Eugene
Moats, George Leutkenholder, and Representative Pearman, and the
unanimous opinion was that simultaneous campaigns should be
conducted in the private hospital, Johns-Hospital; a Jewish
hospital, Sinai, and one or more of the large catholic
hospitals. This would afford us the opportunity of pressing for
recognition where the most favorable climate could be obtained
or where maximum pressures could be applied. Following this
agreement, and on our request, Alan Kistler had conversations
with a leading member of the Catholic clergy who, in turn,
directed our attention to most influential layman of the
Catholic Church in the Baltimore diocese. In a luncheon
conference with me he expressed great sympathy for our efforts
to improve the lot of these low paid hospital workers, and said
he was of the opinion that the campaign could be conducted in a
manner to cause the Archbishop of this diocese to come to him
for labor relations advice on this matter.
I called Mr. Walter Collins, BSEIU, and made a complete
report on the above developments. Mr. Collins felt that any
organizational activities other than those underway at
Johns-Hopkins would not be timely, and he expressed his
resistance "to spreading this campaign too thin."
This brings us up against the hard realities of the
position taken by Dr. Russell A. Nelson, Director of
Johns-Hopkins Hospital and newly elected Director of the
American Hospital Association, where he pronounced his
unqualified opposition to the unionization of hospital workers.
He is giving every evidence of being determined to oppose any
recognition of BSEIU in behalf of his workers.
* * * *
Monthly Round-Up Report
A Daily Account:
Johns-Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland,
800 employees; Building Service Employees Int'l Union.
Following earlier survey we began in early August. Now have 362
workers signed up (of approx. 800) and we have departmental
organizing committees formed. Three to nine cents per house
increase given this month by management. BSEIU chartered
Hospital Employee Union Local 491. Organizers: Hawkins, Wood,
Lorden, and Singleton.
August 3. Union
Memorial Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland,
Approx. 500 employees; Building Service Employees Int'l
Union. No active organizing activities yet -- but 62 workers
have secured membership cards and signed and mailed them in.
Hawkins Wood, Lorden, Singleton.
August 3. Sinai
Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, Approx. 350-400 employees;
Building Service Employees Int'l Union. Hand-billed this
hospital on one occasion and 34 membership cards returned
through mail. Organizers: Hawkins, Wood, Lorden, Singleton.
* * * *
Study Offer Made to Hospital:
AFL-CIO Organizer Submits Plan
to Hopkins Director
Frank P.L. Somerville
The AFL-CIO yesterday proposed that any one of six
mediators be allowed to judge whether a union seeking
recognition by the Johns Hopkins Hospital has the backing of a
majority of the employees in question.
Oliver W. Singleton, AFL-CIO Region 4 director, made the
proposals in reply to objections by the hospital that the group
seeking recognition did not represent a majority of some 1,000
No NLRB Jurisdiction. Acknowledging that the National
Labor Relations Board has no jurisdiction in disputes involving
hospital workers, Mr. Singleton urged the Hopkins management to
throw the question open to:
1. A proper agency of the State of Maryland.
2. An agent or agency of the mayor of Baltimore.
3. Any five clergymen.
4. A tripartite board made up of hospital directors,
union representatives and impartial members.
5. A panel of three selected court judges.
6. Any single citizen acceptable to both parties.
Study Is Promised. Dr. Russell A. Nelson, director of the
Johns Hopkins Hospital, said yesterday after receipt of Mr.
Singleton's letter that "we will give his suggestions full
and serious considerations.'
A previous exchange of correspondence was made public
Saturday in which the AFL-CIO regional director asked the
Hopkins to recognize Hospital Employees Local 491, while the
hospital refused on the basis that the collective bargaining
agent did not represent the majority it claimed.
Mr. Singleton wrote Dr. Nelson yesterday that "three
points stand out" in the reasoning behind the hospital's
refusal to deal with the union.
According to the union official, they are:
1. "Your improper refusal to recognize the
collective bargaining rights of your lower paid workers, despite
the fact that hospitals have historically and traditionally
recognized the right of group association by nurses and doctors
and other higher-paid professional workers."
2. "Your seeming shock that your employees may have
joined an organization . . . empowered to question decisions
that might affect working conditions. . . ."
Mr. Singleton said he believed that this point "will
prove to be a passing thing" because "in a democratic
society we all learn that there is no such thing as unquestioned
authority" and that "workers in fact have the right to
question management's unilateral decisions."
Joining Right Noted. "Your statement that you do not
believe that a majority of the employees specified . . . have
joined or desire to join the . . . union."
Quoting Dr. Nelson as saying that "we recognize the
right of our employees to join unions," Mr. Singleton
"Of course, such recognition in all reasonableness
demands recognition of the attendant right of collective
bargaining, otherwise it is completely incongruous."
The union spokesman then made his proposal that "the
matter be solved in the same way the national Labor relations
Board settles questions of representation" but with the
substitution of any of the mentioned third parties for the NLRB.
Strike Seen "Unlikely." "We accept our
responsibilities to the community and with sincere respect urge
you to realize that your position violates the basic rights of a
free people and could generate disharmony, inimicable to the
public welfare," Mr. Singleton wrote Dr. Nelson.
As to the possibility of a strike at the medical
institution, the union official said yesterday: "A strike
is possible, of course, but I believe highly unlikely."
He then went on to say that strike could "only come
about through the continued and persistent refusal" by the
hospital to recognize the union.
Opposes "Pressures." In addition to stating his
belief that the petitioning union did not represent a majority
of the hospital employees concerned, the Hopkins director had
written Mr. Singleton that dealing with a collective bargaining
agent "would be incompatible with the sole purpose of our
existence and inimicable to those we serve."
"Our service to the public has been developed in an
atmosphere in which the board of trustees and the hospital
administration have been free to pursue our objectives without
the pressures exerted by organized groups contending for their
own economic benefit," the hospital director had argued.
* * *
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—
* * *
Hopes and Prospects
By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky
surveys the dangers and prospects of our
early twenty-first century. Exploring
challenges such as the growing gap
between North and South, American
exceptionalism (including under
President Barack Obama), the fiascos of
Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli
assault on Gaza, and the recent
financial bailouts, he also sees hope
for the future and a way to move
forward—in the democratic wave in Latin
America and in the global solidarity
movements that suggest "real progress
toward freedom and justice." Hopes and
Prospects is essential reading for
anyone who is concerned about the
primary challenges still facing the
human race. "This is a classic Chomsky
work: a bonfire of myths and lies,
sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky
is an enduring inspiration all over the
world—to millions, I suspect—for the
simple reason that he is a truth-teller
on an epic scale. I salute him." —John
In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of
American empire and class domination, at
home and abroad, Chomsky continues a
longstanding and crucial work of
elucidation and activism . . .the
writing remains unswervingly rational
and principled throughout, and lends
bracing impetus to the real alternatives
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
posted 24 July 2008