by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
This Investigation Has Teeth
David Heath and Jill Rosenbaum continue the iWatch investigation of greedy corporate dental chains that cater to the uninsured and exploit vulnerable patients. An Aspen Dental outlet in Colorado charged an 87-year-old woman over $2500 for a cleaning at two fillings and tried to sign her up for thousands of dollars of additional work, all paid for with special credit card the dentist encouraged her to apply for. The office even billed her $129 per rinse for four swishes of antibacterial mouthwash.
Former employees at Aspen Dental, which is owned by a private equity firm, told iWatch that they are schooled in high pressure sales tactics and pressured to sign patients up for elaborate and expensive treatment plans for dental care they might need in the future:
“People would come into the office maybe with a toothache and come out with a treatment plan that maybe the dentist said we need to extract all your teeth,” said Jenny Hayes, the former office manager in Illinois. “They were made to stop in the manager’s office and sit down for an intense consultative selling process that they really didn’t bargain for when they walked in the door. I had people literally breaking down and crying in my office. And it happened quite regularly.”
Most states barely regulate dental chains, per se. Regulators like Lili Reitz of the Ohio State Dental Board can crack down on individual dentists, but not the chains that systematically push unnecessary care. Reitz says a quarter of all the complaints she investigated last year came from corporate chains.
[Photo credit: Luccawithcheese, Creative Commons.]