|Wednesday was a historic day for Backus Hospital in Norwich, CT. For the first time in 118 years the RNs have voted to unionize. It was a long, difficult campaign for me, there were sleepless nights, there were uncomfortable encounters with some in management. I would imagine it was long and difficult for those RNs who did not agree with us. The campaign was was not always pretty. This is a subject that is very personal to most people. I believe with my entire heart and soul that we have made the right decision. I'm sure that there are many who feel just as deeply that we have not. I must respect that.|
Last year my church was going though a process of closing some parishes due to decreased numbers attending and financial concerns. One Sunday, early in the process, our deacon took to the pulpit. With a somber face he announced that our parish would be one of those that would be closing. There was a long, long pause. It was uncomfortably quiet. Finally he took a deep breath and announced that our parish would not be closing but that others around us would, and he wanted us to feel what they would feel so that we could understand.
I cannot know what it feels like to the Backus No nurses, I can only imagine.
I can tell you this. Lori and I sat side by side for 3 hours Wednesday, checking names. It was the last 3 hours of the polling and most had voted already. We had lots of time to talk, with each other and the board agents. It was awkward at times, pleasant at times, even fun at times. Before the count we shook hands. We sat side by side counting the votes, it was agonizing. A run of no votes and then a run of yes votes, back and forth it went, each time the votes swung so did my emotions. When it was done we were ahead. Lori extended her hand and we shook again. I was elated, I still am elated, and yet my heart goes out to her.
Lori and the rest of the Backus No nurses believe in something different than I do, but I do not doubt the sincerity of their beliefs. They want what I want, we just have different beliefs on what is the best path to get there.
Now, we go forward. In time, all wounds heal. We work for the betterment of our patients, our hospital, ourselves, our families, and our community. Participation in the process is crucial. ALL must be heard, ALL must be listened to, ALL must be respected. We are many and we each have different talents, let us each use what has been given to us to achieve these goals.
Our leadership needs to cross all age groups, all floors, all units, all opinions. THAT is what will make us strong.
I want to say thank you to the AFT organizing team, to my fellow members of the organizing committee, to my colleagues in the ED and across the hospital, to the physicians who have supported us, to the members of the security union, to all those from other departments who have encouraged us, to the wonderful locals of L+M, Windham, Rockville,Manchester, UCONN, Danbury, and other hospitals. We have been wearing buttons that say "Proud to be a Nurse" and that has never been so true.
I also want to thank my wife, Michelle, my rock, who puts up with so much from me.
To management I say, we are ready to work with you, in mutual respect, let us begin.