Sunday, March 13, 2011


“I support the right for workers to form a union,” Malloy told the nurses. “There is a process under way at Backus, and I will respect the outcome of that process.”
So said Governor Dan Malloy when he met us Wednesday night.
30 Backus nurses met in a large room. We formed chairs into a circle, we hung AFT union banners and flags on the walls, some of us in still in scrubs, we waited for the governor. We were told he had a long tiring day, he was coming from the meeting at Norwich town hall with the voters, defending his budget. He took the time after all this to meet us. Why?
As he entered the room he called out "Is there a nurse in the room?" He circled the room shaking hands and introducing himself then he took a chair. He spoke of his late mother being a nurse, of how she had formed a nursing association, the precursor to unions. He spoke of his aunts being nurses and how his relatives were still members of the same union they helped form. He spoke of how it is the right of a worker to form unions and how he supports that right.
Then he said it must have taken a lot of negative changes to get us to take such a stand. We told him that Backus had been a community hospital that placed patients first, but now it was a business that placed money first. We told him they have taken away so much in pay and benefits that young nurses don't stay around, they leave after a few years and that the patients suffer from the loss of experienced nurses. He understood us, he said Backus is what people call a "training hospital". But I think what got to him the most was when we told him we wanted to work as partners with administration to return Backus to what it once was and even better because nursing isn't just a profession, it's a vocation. His response was that he truly believed nursing was a calling.
It was getting late, he had a long day, but he took the time to listen and respect us and wish us well. He took some pictures with us before he left.
He and his advisers made a conscience decision to meet with us, they knew the message it would send, that he respects the rights of all workers to form unions, that in particular, he respects and supports our effort at Backus.
In our Statement of Purpose we said, "William Backus Hospital has always had a tradition of striving for excellence: however, this cannot exist without a real partnership between the RNs and the administration.....Partnership can only exist when responsibility and respect are present in equal portions. At Backus Hospital those of us responsible for providing the care have seen respect steadily eroding away. We will not allow that to continue."
In a conversation I had with an A2 Oncology nurse this week she summed it up this way, "They even took away the peanut butter from my patients, they need that protein whenever they aren't nauseous"
Let's give her the ability to fulfill her calling, caring for the sickest of the sick, let's give her that peanut butter.
When we speak with one voice we will be able to do that. When we speak with one voice we will be partners. When we speak with one voice we will be strong. When we speak with one voice we will demand respect.
Thank you Governor Malloy, thank you Paul Deutsch MD, thank you Senator Edith Prague, thank you to the many doctors who have come to us privately and expressed their support, thank you to the other legislators and community leaders who have expressed support, thank you to all the courageous RNs and LPNs who have spoken out publicly, thank you to all who have signed union cards and are spreading truth in the halls of Backus to counter the lies of fear and intimidation of management. Our day of respect, of partnership, is near, and it is all because of you.

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