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Nat’l Labor Relations Board Says Sanford Can’t Forbid Doctors from Talking About Pay

I did not know that Sanford Health forced its doctors to keep their pay secret. Neither did the National Labor Relations Board, which has told Sanford to knock it off:

Sanford Health has agreed to allow its physicians to discuss terms of their contracts with coworkers and others after a federal labor board determined that the health care system was violating the law.

The National Labor Relations Board formally approved a settlement agreement with Sanford Health last week that forces the system to change its employment contracts so that doctors may discuss their compensation in the workplace and elsewhere. The settlement came three months after a physician filed an unfair labor practice charge with the national board against Sanford’s branch in Bismarck, North Dakota [Regina Garcia Cano, “Sanford Health to Allow Physicians to Discuss Their Contract Terms,” AP via that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.06.23].

Sanford and all employers should understand that workers have a right to talk about what they are getting paid for their work. The free market depends on such free speech: if workers can’t find out what the going market rate is for their labor, they can’t ensure that they are being paid fairly or make informed decisions when they negotiate their contracts.

Not letting employees talk about their pay is like not letting farmers talk about how much they make raising corn or beef. Price information makes the free market work.

Now if we can just get Sanford to give customers a clear list of prices for its services.


  1. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2016-06-24

    I am extremely happy that the NLRB ruled in favor of the doctors at Sanford. But I cannot help but think about all those right of center people within the health industry, mainly doctors, who then turn around and vote for conservative politicians who work to lessen workers rights throughout the land.

    If a contract is good enough for the doctors then it should be good enough for the janitors at Sanford too, and the workers at Walmart and every where else as well….

  2. O 2016-06-24

    Illegally asking/requiring employees is a practice far more common than only the health care industry. It is a practice that employers use to suppress employee wages and perpetuate discriminatory practices. I am glad to see Sanford doctors standing up for their rights.

  3. Bob Newland 2016-06-24

    “Sanford and all employers should understand that workers have a right to talk about what they are getting paid for their work.”

    They DO understand that, of course, and that’s part of the reason they try to get their indentured servants to agree not to.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-06-26

    Clunky and incomplete, Blue! I click up “Normal Newborn Birthweight 2000g – 2499g” at Sanford Aberdeen and get “NR”, based apparently on there being too few discharges to report. The system doesn’t give me price tags for services I might use right now; it gives me an average of what people were charged last year. That’s like Cenex taking down its gasoline price boards and telling customers to go to Gas Buddy and look up the average price of gas in Aberdeen from 2015. Customers should be able to look at an online catalog just like at Amazon or Best Buy and see how much procedures and medicines will cost them at Sanford and Avera today so they can decide where they’d rather go… assuming of course they are dealing with a malady that affords them the leisure of reviewing prices before the head in for treatment.

  5. leslie 2016-06-26

    ahh, the “right to work state, the sunshine state (as in Round’s/Daugaard’s Tidemann -I SEE NOTHING_ administrations) is crumbling from the top-of course.

    “fall mountains, just don’t fall on me”-j. hendrix

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