Seems like I’ve been doing a lot of that recently.
This time it was before the Judiciary Committee in favor of a bill on Captive Audience Meetings.
I told the committee of my experience in 2011 when, along with my fellow nurses at Backus Hospital, we grew tired of not having a voice and thereby not being able to advocate for our patients, and after trying to get management to listen to us and failing, we formed a union.
I told them of the multiple captive audience meetings I survived.
Meetings in which a manager would pull me into a small room, close the door and then stand in front of it, and tell me that my “union” activities were harming my patients and my coworkers and that I should back down from the effort.
I told them that these meetings were so traumatizing that I would debrief with my organizer (thank you Ole) after the meetings, much as I would after caring for a child in the ER who didn’t survive.
I told them how at one point, two managers cornered me in a 10 foot by 10 foot storage room and berated me for my efforts.
One committee member stated that this sounds much like the size of a prison cell (6 ft X 10 ft) and how it must have felt like I was in a cell at the moment.
Another member said she considers herself a strong person who can stand up to anyone and that my story sounded intimidating even to her.
The chair, whom I have known for some time, said he never thought of me as someone who would back down from intimidation.
While I appreciate that statement, the truth is I am quite sensitive.
I told him this, and that it takes a lot to make me overcome my sensitivity, but not having a voice to advocate for my patients and fearing that some of the younger nurses might be vulnerable to intimidation, allowed me to have the courage to stand up and gain a voice.
Workers should not need to overcome management coercion or intimidation to come together and form a union and gain a voice.
My experience has made me stronger, but it was not easy.
I pray that any work I do makes it easy for others.