Enloe walking the talk

It would be easy to take a cynical view of Enloe Medical Center’s decision to bring back 60 of the 105 workers who lost their jobs a month earlier (see Newslines).

In Tuesday’s announcement, the hospital states that CEO Debi Yancer’s motivation includes avoiding prolonged, costly litigation. The rehired employees will receive back pay—but some workers have new jobs, and others won’t want to risk getting pink-slipped again. So, really, how generous is this offer?

Based on Enloe’s poor history of labor relations, we don’t blame anyone for discounting altruism laced with pragmatism.

Yet in that announcement we find reason to feel encouraged. One sentence in Yancer’s letter to the medical staff runs so contrary to the previous regime’s behavior that it’s hard to believe it appears on Enloe letterhead.

“It is also more important for us to do right rather than be right.”

On the eve of a National Labor Relations Board deadline, Yancer opted not to contest the unfair-labor-practices complaint filed by the union representing service workers. “I don’t want to start our relationship on that note,” she told the CN&R; thus, SEIU members can return to work as negotiations over the layoffs get under way.

Yancer, in taking over as CEO last month, pledged to increase openness at the hospital. She followed through by promptly disclosing serious problems uncovered by a medical review team, then did so again with her candid communiqués about the “layoffs in reverse.”

Swallowed pride? Good-faith concessions? Enloe? Give credit to Yancer for walking her talk. She won’t be a pushover in negotiations—her team includes a Bay Area law firm that’s bargained with SEIU before—but at least she’s making gestures to heal rather than hatchet.