Saturday, December 3, 2011

Don't piss off an Irishman

Can I tell you something?
I'm pissed.
I'm sorry, but I am.
We have been meeting with management for 5 months. They arrive late every session and they just don't seem prepared when they do get there. I wonder if they even talk with each other between sessions.
It's disrespectful.
Our committee has met for countless hours to prepare. Five months ago we gave them a complete contract proposal. They have only responded to about a third of it. I am told it is not unusual, management considers it part of the game, part of the negotiation dance.
I don't want to dance and to me it's not a game, this is my life, it is the lives of my coworkers, it is the lives of my patients and it is the financial life of my hospital.
We will do what we can to move things along but in the meantime remember that we ARE a union and we have to act like one.
We have stepped in and intervened for nurses in discipline/discharge proceedings, protecting their rights, making a bad situation better for them and the hospital.
We got an extension on filing for insurance for next year. Management had given ten days and with everyone's busy lives many people, nurses and others, missed the deadline. We got a one week extension.
Some nurses are being told that vacations past a certain date can't be approved. We have spoken to Human Resources and they have assured us that this is not the case. If you are told otherwise let us know and we will intervene for you as we already have for others.
Management denied nurses the bonus they earned from a year of hard work. We filed charges with the labor board and if needed we will take them to trial.
We had wanted to have negotiations at the hospital to make it more convenient for nurses to stop in during dinner breaks or after work and to save both union and hospital money but management refused. That is their right. So we applied for the use of the hospital conference rooms for negotiation update meetings and were tentatively approved and then denied. These rooms are used by all kinds of community groups so to deny us was discriminatory. We filed charges with the labor board and the hospital gave in. Our first meeting was well attended and people wanted to know what they could do to help.
Some people can't make negotiations for various reasons, we understand.
There are other things you can do to help.
Wear your union buttons, tell us if you need more.
Call David Whitehead at 860-889-8331 ext 2722.
Tell him to listen to the nurses and instruct his team to negotiate in good faith. His secretary will answer the phone, give her the message, or call at night and leave a voice mail. Call often.
There seems to be a feeling from management that this is their hospital to do with what they want. They have had complete control and they want to keep it that way.
Guess what, if we thought they were being good stewards of our community hospital we wouldn't have gone though all this trouble. It is the community's hospital and we all answer to them.
So, I'm angry, but I'm not discouraged.
You are my strength.
You are the entire committee's strength.
We will prevail, we will bring our hospital to where it should be.
The only question is this.
Will management help or be a hindrance?

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