Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Negotiation update: We stand up, talks break down

Did you ever have one of those times in your life when you were getting pushed around and pushed around and finally you couldn't take it anymore? It took a lot to get you to stand up for yourself but you finally did.

For the nurses of Backus hospital, that moment came last night.

For years we have been bullied, intimidated, and pushed around and last night we said,


I remember last May 11. After months of organizing for our constitutional right for a free vote on whether we wanted to unionize, a campaign filled with anti union literature, scare tactics, intimidation, and humiliation, we voted as a group to join together. When the vote total was announced, an understandable cheer went up from the nurses present. I remember the reaction of Tom Gibbons, the hospital lawyer. He yelled out at the top of his voice, "clear them out of here, this is a hospital!"

What an arrogant statement.
(We were in the bottom floor of a closed Medical Office Building, no where near any patients)

Since negotiations started in July we have tolerated their late arrivals, never being prepared, offering proposals and refusing to put them in writing, and just a total disrespect. Over and over Gibbons has spoken in demeaning tones. He has interrupted our negotiator, Greg Kotecki, and refused to discuss certain subjects all the while insisting we discuss his subjects.

Sometimes our committee has wanted to lash out at the management at the table in response to their disrespect but Greg has counseled us wisely saying "sometimes you have think something without saying it" in an effort to move forward and focus on the important topics of the night.

Last night they came to the table and offered us 0.5% wage increase/year while holding to their insurance proposal that would increase a family plan for a 28 hour/week nurse to $301/week by the end of year 3.

It was insulting.

We worked up a counter proposal (in writing), and before presenting it, Greg asked for a clarification on their 403b proposal. It was clear that Gibbons did not understand his own proposal and when Greg tried to work him through it, Gibbons interrupted. Greg told him that he was speaking but Gibbons would not stop, continuing on and in a disrespectful and demeaning tone of voice.

Finally, Greg could take no more. He stood up for himself and us and demanded respect and when Gibbons would offer none...

Greg told him to get out of our room!

When Gibbons and management left the members in attendance cheered. The committee feels this was long overdue. We will not be pushed around. Backus has shown nothing but disrespect towards the nurses, fighting us even on our chosen Local name.

There can be only one future at Backus, one with mutual respect between management and nurses, if their lawyer cannot provide this, then maybe he needs to be replaced.

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