Monday, July 30, 2012

Missing Dad (still)

This week I’m taking a much needed week of R+R.  We rented a cottage at the Rhode Island beach.

Yesterday morning we went to the church where my Mom and Dad used to go.  They bought a house just up the road about 10 years before Dad passed away, and then Mom lived here for a few more years before moving.  I’ve had some real spiritual moments in this church, it’s one of the places I feel closest to my Dad.  He passed almost 30 years ago, but there are still times that I miss him and wish he were around to talk to, to bounce ideas off, to share thoughts and experiences with.

Yesterday, sitting in that church, felt like the first time I had rested in 2 years.  I told my Dad what I had been up to, helping to form a union local and all. I wished I could have said it person to person.

My Dad was never in a union, he never talked about unions, put he instilled values in me through what he did say and even more, by his actions. He taught me there is dignity in ALL work and in ALL workers, that all people should be treated with respect, that a person’s worth isn’t measured by their income, their education, their color, their religion, their ethnic background, or their sex.

Last summer I was at a reception at the AFL-CIO office in Washington.  They asked me to say a few words.  I told them that until recently, I had never been involved in union activity but that I had grown up believing that we are all equal and that when one man has two coats, he should share one with the man who has none.  I learned this at home.

The nurses of Backus Hospital now have a voice.  Our challenge is to use that voice, not only in the workplace, but in the community also.  We have that responsibility as members of organized labor, as healthcare workers, and as citizens of this planet. 

We have all grown up with values that tell us this is the right thing to do. This is one of the reasons we are in healthcare.  We are all busy, we all need to balance work and R+R, and none of us has to do it all alone. 

We need only to do what we all called to do, what my Dad and Mom, what your Dad and Mom, taught us to do.

Friday, July 27, 2012

AFT National Convention

The AFT National Convention is taking place this weekend in Detroit.  Members from all over the country meeting to both celebrate the past two years and to plan the next two.
The Backus Federation of Nurses was invited to the convention to share our organizing story.  We were represented today by our Vice President Michelle Hayes and our Political Liaison Carol Adams who both spoke before the Healthcare Division.  They told how nurses from throughout the hospital stood up against great odds, how they we joined by brothers and sisters from the other AFT CT locals, other labor unions, people of the community, politicians and clergy, all united behind one belief, one goal. That it is the right of the working class people of this country to stand together, to collectively bargain, and to improve their community and this great nation.
The report from Detroit is that Michelle and Carol represented us with pride, with class, and with elegance, but then again, we already knew they would.
Before Michelle and Carol spoke, AFT President Randi Weingarten gave her State of the Union speech.  In it, she spoke of the cooperation of AFT CT in New Haven, and across Connecticut, in the school reforms this past year.  Then she said, before the entire union:
"This work strengthened our credibility with Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy. And when the more than 400 nurses at Backus Hospital in Norwich, Conn., fought against a vicious union-busting campaign, Gov. Malloy stepped up and helped us secure that first contract."
We are a small independent Local, but we a part of something much bigger. We are in the business of improving the lives of our students, our patients, our communities, and the working men and women of this country.
We are lucky to be led by leaders like Randi, Michelle and Carol.
Randi's entire speech is at:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Understanding our contact, Articles 13-16

Let's continue our study of our contract.
Article 13  Union Rights

The union president or their designee is granted time off to attend grievance meetings, arbitration meetings and other meetings dealing with the duties of the office.  In some cases these are paid time.
The union has 10 non paid days annually to attend union functions at the local, state or national level, distributed by the president, subject to patient care needs, but not unnecessarily withheld by the hospital.
Our union Field Representative, or other union representative has the right to admission to the hospital to administer this contract.
The hospital will provide bulletin boards in staff lounges for union use.  (coming soon)
A union delegate attending a Weingarten investigatory interview (when you are called to the office)will be paid. In addition, if an employee requests union representation when receiving discipline, it will be granted, even though it is not guaranteed under weingarten.  (this is a contractual right, not a legal right)

Bottom line of the last section is that if you are called to a meeting with a boss, and they start asking questions that could lead to discipline or if they are issuing you discipline, you have the right to union representation.

Article 14 Hours of Work
Take a meal break whenever possible.  When not possible let your clinical coordinator, director, or nursing supervisor know and have them OK it.
Management can change shift times and days but must bargain the effect on employees.

Article 15 Overtime
If you work over 40 hours a week or 9 hours a day you will be paid time and a half.
The hospital may mandate overtime only to the extent that it is consistent with Connecticut law.

Public Act No. 04-242Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2005)
(a) As used in this section:
(1) "Nurse" means a registered nurse or a practical nurse licensed pursuant to chapter 378 of the general statutes, or a nurse's aide registered pursuant to chapter 378a of the general statutes; and
(2) "Hospital" shall have the same meaning as set forth in section 19a-490 of the general statutes, as amended.
(b) No hospital may require a nurse to work in excess of a predetermined scheduled work shift, provided such scheduled work shift is determined and promulgated not less than forty-eight hours prior to the commencement of such scheduled work shift. Any nurse may volunteer or agree to work hours in addition to such scheduled work shift but the refusal by a nurse to accept such additional hours shall not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge or any other penalty or employment decision adverse to the nurse.
(c) The provisions of this section shall not apply: (1) To any nurse participating in a surgical procedure until such procedure is completed; (2) to any nurse working in a critical care unit until such nurse is relieved by another nurse who is commencing a scheduled work shift; (3) in the case of a public health emergency; (4) in the case of an institutional emergency, including, but not limited to, adverse weather conditions, catastrophe or widespread illness, that in the opinion of the hospital administrator will significantly reduce the number of nurses available for a scheduled work shift, provided the hospital administrator has made a good faith effort to mitigate the impact of such institutional emergency on the availability of nurses; or (5) to any nurse who is covered by a collective bargaining agreement that contains provisions addressing the issue of mandatory overtime.

Article 16 Schedules
 Request days off should be submitted 4 weeks prior to the start of the schedule, which will cover a 4 week period.  The schedule will be posted 2 weeks in advance.  Once it is posted, employees may volunteer to fill open shifts.  If more than one employee volunteers for an open shift, it will be filled by rotation, beginning with the most senior bargaining unit member as long as it doesn't result in overtime.  Shifts will be awarded no later than one week prior to the start of the schedule.  During the one week prior to the schedule, shifts can be filled by non bargaining unit members.

A word or two about hours of work and schedules.
During negotiations, and since then, the union has sought to continue what we feel is working.  Many departments self schedule. Many have people who have worked the same days of the week for years, or the same hours of the day for years. Some departments have worked it out so that they don't have to work every other weekend or holiday, but maybe every third.  This has worked out well and we sought no change. There is nothing in the contract that demands or requires a change.  In fact, we were able to get language that says under certain situations, the hospital must negotiate the effects of such a change on the nurses.

However, the hospital does retain most of the rights they they have always had to change hours and schedules.
So, it is important to understand that any changes that may be made to schedules is a result of decisions of the hospital and not a result of anything the union did or because it is required by the contract.  In fact, we will advocate for schedules to remain unchanged, and we will do whatever we are allowed under the contract terms to minimize any effect of any hospital decisions effecting schedules. 
If you have questions or concerns contact me, or one of the other officers.  Also, we have a meeting on August 7th for those interested in being delegates.  My hope is that this will greatly enhance communication.  If interested in attending, even if just to find out more, contact one of the officers.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

AFT local 5123

I think I first met Harry Rodriguez at a breakfast for AFT union members and local politicians.
Harry is president of the L+M Healthcare Workers union, AFT local #5123, roughly 800 members strong.
Harry is also a vice president of AFT CT.

It's been a pleasure to spend time with Harry at various meetings.  He is not only a knowledgeable leader, he carries himself with both a humble grace and a command of power at the same time.

He fired up the crowd at our rally for our first contract with a stirring speech.

When we were in Washington for the professional issues conference we walked into Senator Blumenthal's office with members of several AFT CT locals.  Introductions were made between the Senator's aide and ourselves and later, ourselves and the Senator, but Harry needed no introduction. He was greeted with "Hi Harry" before he could speak.
When it was time, he spoke not about his issues, but about the struggle WE were facing at Backus in our fight to achieve a fair, first contract.

Harry's union, as we sometimes call local 5123, is celebrating 10 years of being chartered.
Personally and on behalf of the members of the Backus Federation of Nurses, I want to extend our congratulations and thanks.

I am learning much from the three presidents of L+M.
Lisa D'Abrosca of the RN local, who has guided me from the start. She was at many of our organizing meetings, with her encouragement and advice. She was there when we voted and there when we negotiated.  She has guided us on Washington St, Norwich and in Washington D C.
Stephanie Johnson of the LPN/Tech local, who marched at our rally and our informational picketing, her enthusiasm and smile energizing us, and who is there whenever I ask.
And Harry. 

They are a strong leaders and a great source of help and support, I am proud to be their brother in the struggle for worker's rights.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Calling all Delegates

Let's take a look at the organization of our Local.

We have an executive committee made up of myself as President, Michelle Hayes as Vice President/Chief Delegate, Melissa Hunter as Secretary, and Donna Callicutt as Treasurer.
We will set up committees for various functions, including a Negotiating Committee, Finance Committee, Elections Committee, Communication and Publicity Committee, Grievance Committee and other committees as we deem necessary. The duties and makeup of the committees are spelled out in our constitution. 

The role of the union Delegate is spelled out below, taken from our constitution. They are the communication liaisons for various areas of the hospital, getting information to the members and bringing concerns to the attention of the executive committee.

Union Delegates shall be members in good standing that shall serve as their area’s Communication Liaison. They shall be appointed by the President with the Executive Committee consent and approval. All elected Officers shall also be Union Delegates by virtue of office. Union Delegate duties shall be as follows:

 a.      Assist the grievance team in handling grievances;

 b.          Police the contract in their respective areas reporting any potential violations as they occur;

c.          Communicate to the Grievance Committee decisions, contract interpretations and results of meetings with their constituent members;

d.          Represent members upon request, in meetings with management and inform the Executive Committee and the Grievance Committee of any results of said meetings. Continue to receive and make themselves available to education regarding the latest issues facing the Union and the membership

e.          Shall be responsible for orientation of new members to enable them to function effectively in the union.

f.           Additional responsibilities include introducing all new employees to the Union insuring that they are notified that the work site is unionized and that all “prospective” members are given an opportunity to join the Union. Presentation packages, which shall include a copy of the current collective bargaining contract with a dues authorization card, shall be given to all prospective members.

Delegates are the eyes and the ears of the local, making sure the contract is not violated in the area they work.  When requested by a fellow employee, they accompany them to meetings with management when the meeting is investigatory in nature and could  lead to disciple, discharge, or effect the employees working conditions.   Delegates report back to the Grievance Committee and together, the committee, Delegate and employee decide how to handle the issue.

Delegates receive training for the role they play in service to their fellow employees.  Any costs the delegates incur as a result of their position are covered by the Local.  In addition, delegates are reimbursed 1/2 of their union dues as a thank you for their time.

It's an important role, probably the most important in the day to day life of our members, but that shouldn't scare anyone away.  Michelle Hayes is our Vice President/Chief Delegate.  The reason our Vice President is also Chief Delegate is because we recognise the importance of the Delegate role and want to give it the attention it deserves.  Michelle has served as a Delegate in the Massachusetts Nurses Association, is well trained, and will keep a close watch over her Delegates.

Many have signed up saying they would like to be a Delegate or at least learn more about it, Michelle will be contacting you.  Our first meeting for our Delegates will be August 7 at 5pm and a training will be held on August 22 at 5pm, both at the office.  If you did not sign up, but are interested in finding out more, please contact us at

Others have signed up expressing interest in various committees and Donna has spoke with some about the Finance committee.  I will be contacting you in the weeks to come. If you have anything you believe our Local should be involved in, let us know.
One idea that comes to mind is public outreach.  We have had 2 successful food drives with the United Way and one Blood Pressure check at a local church, I would like to see that continue, so if that interests you, let us know.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it.  Remember, there are 400 of us.  Each person should do what they can do and what interests them, no more, no less.  I have said all along that this is our union Local and it truly is, become involved and it will be YOUR union Local.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A lucky brother

Question:  What do a teacher, a principle, a project manager and a nurse have in common?
Answer:  A sister who lives in Vermont and needs help with repairs on her house.

My brother in law, Ira, passed away 4 years ago from cancer and since then my sister has been busy raising 4 children and her house was in need of repairs.
My youngest brother, Chris, decided we were the ones to do it, so he came up from Virginia on the train and met Joe, Mike and myself and off to Vermont we went for a 3 day working weekend. Mike's daughter, Ali, came along to assist.

After 3 very hot and humid days we left Mary's house in a little better shape than we found it.

My lower back, which I injured 2 days before the trip, is killing me, and my brothers are walking a little differently because of sore muscles, but it was still a good trip.
I think Mary benefited from both the repairs and the support.

It was a tough way to spend the weekend and I'm glad to be home, but I'm also glad I went.

It's what brothers do. 

I was going to try to explain that last statement, but I think that those who understand don't need an explanation and those who need an explanation won't understand.

Let's just say it's nice to be one of 6 siblings.
I'm a lucky brother.

Friday, July 13, 2012


In the Jewish Passover celebration there is a song, the Dayenu.  I am not Jewish so I'm sure my understanding is someawhat inaccurate, but this is my take on it. 
It is a song that celebrates the Hebrews escape from slavery in Egypt and their recognition and gratitute to God for His role in that.
Throughtout the song, they say, if only this had happeed, it would have been enough.  But that and more happened, so each line gives another thing they are grateful for.  It also means that although they are grateful, they desire more, if that is God's will for them.

Passover, and this song, are celebrated present tense.  The liberation of the Jewish people is not something that happened only thousands of years ago.  What happened to their ancestors, also happened to those alive now, they are one with their ancestors in this experience.  It also continues to happen, the liberation is never ending.
While they are gratelful for what God has provided, and that would be enough, they desire more, and because God gives them more at every step of the way, it is their duty to work for more.

A part of the song:
If only He had brought us out of Egypt, that would have been enough.
If only He had split the sea for us, that would have been enough.
If only He had provided for our needs in the wilderness for 40 years, that would have been enough.
If only He had given us the Torah, that would have been enough

In our modern age we might want to continue:

If only He had end slavery, that would have been enough.
If only He had given minorieties and women the right to vote, that would have been enough.
If only He had given us the right to strive for a living wage, that would have been enough.
If only.....

The Dayenu rightfully pays respect to that which we should be thankful for, and it also reminds us that there is always another step on the road to social equality and it is our responsibility to take that step.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An honor to serve

Two years ago I received a phone call from Mary Ann, who used to work in the emergency room and now works in endo.  Little did I know, that call would change my life.
Mary Ann asked me how things were in the ED.  My first thought was that she wanted to pick up time, something that would help us greatly.  When she said she had been talking to a guy from the union, I got honest.
Things were not good and hadn't been good in a long time.
I wanted to be involved, be a part of the process of making our hospital better.

When I started meeting with other nurses, at meetings, in their houses, in the hallways at work and I heard their stories, felt their pain, saw their hope,
I was all in.

I have had the privilege of working with some great nurses and organizers, they have become good friends.  I have come to appreciate them as I never did before.

Yesterday I was elected President.
It's both an honor and a great responsibility.
It will be my honor to serve you.  I promise to do the best I can.  I also promise to ask much of you.  I am not the union. Your executive board, your delegates, your AFT CT staff and officers, are not the union.

You are the union.

Our strength comes from our numbers. 

Your involvement is critical to our success.  I'm not asking that you give up your life, just share it, just do what you can do.

We will have a meeting of those interested in being delegates on August 7, at 5:30, at our office.  We will contact those who have expressed interest.  If you are interested in coming to see if this is something you might want to do to help your fellow nurse, please contact us.

I believe we are all called to use the talents we have been given to do good for others, I will give you that opportunity.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Unerstanding our contract, Articles 9,10,11,12

Let's continue our study of our contract.
Article 9, Probationary and Orientation Periods:

The first 150-180 days of employment is the probation period.  During this period the hospital has complete discretion to determine whether or not to retain or discipline the employee.  Prior to the contract they had this right for the entire length of our employment because we were "at will" employees.
All newly hired or voluntarily transferred employees will receive an orientation period in their new department that will vary according to their needs.  If a voluntarily transferred employee fails to be successful in their new department they will be returned to the department, shift, and hours they they had come from, if such an opening exists and if it does not, they will be offered another position which they are qualified for that is similar to their previous shift and hours.

Article 10, Discipline and Discharge:

I capitalize and bold this because to me it is the single most important line in our contract and in and of itself, worth all the work we have gone through.  All workers who do not have a contract are called "at will", meaning they can be disciplined or fired at the will of the employer.
 Under a contract, the employer must prove there is a "just cause".
The hospital must notify the union of any written warning, suspension, or discharge. The grievance committee will investigate these and if they feel there is some injustice, we will file a grievance.  The hospital is not required to notify the union of any verbal warnings or investigatory interviews, nor do they have any obligation to inform the employee that they have the right to union representation at such meetings, but it is a right under the contract.  Any employee called into a meeting for discipline or for an investigation that could lead to discipline should ask for representation. While you do not have the right to refuse to attend such a meeting, you do have the right to respectfully defer answering questions until representation is allowed.  If your rights are in question, violated, or you receive any discipline, you should immediately inform a union representative (delegate).

Article 11, Grievance and Arbitration

 This article spells out the procedure for grievances. 
In a nutshell, if you believe you have reason to file a grievance remember the "10 day rule". 
We have 10 days to file, they have 10 days to respond, we have 10 days to file at the next higher level and so forth.
Each grievance is settled at the lowest level possible.  Step 1 is a meeting between the employee and their clinical director.  If a solution is worked out (settled), then that is the end.  If an settlement cannot be reached, step 2 is between a union delegate and the assistant VP of patient care services.  If no settlement is reached, step three is between the VP of human resources and a union delegate.  If no settlement is reached, arbitration by an independent arbitrator is the next and last step and  their decision is final.

Article 12, Labor-management committee

This is a committee of 4 nurses, our AFT field representative and 4 hospital representatives to "engage in dialogue concerning providing optimal service as a community hospital and maintaining an effective collective bargaining relationship" that meets at least monthly.  We have already started to meet and the meetings have been helpful. (4 bargaining committee members are representing the nurses for now)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Election of officers

Over the last two years I have asked often, and much, of my fellow Backus nurses. Each time, you have responded. We set about the formation of a union because we believe it is in the best interests of ourselves, our families, our patients, our hospital and our community.

It is now time to elect officers for our Local.

It is important to remember that the Backus Federation of Nurses is an independent federation, affiliated with AFT Connecticut, our state federation, and AFT, our national federation. Independent federations like ours, from all across the nation, working in harmony, like many instruments in an orchestra.

What our Local will look like, what instrument it will sound like, is up to you.

Our officers will lead, but they are our servants, not our masters.

On Tuesday, July 10, there will be an open house at your office, 308 Salem Turnpike from 12 noon till 5 pm.

Nominations for officers will be accepted from noon till 2, and voting will take place from 2 till 5.

I urge all members to come, share some food, vote, and be a part of your Local.

Once again I am asking you for something, your support.

I will be nominated for President of our Local. I ask for the consideration of your vote.
I also ask that you consider the following people whom I support:
Michelle Hayes, 3rd shift LDRP, for Vice President/Chief Delegate
Donna Callicutt, 2nd shift A3, for Treasurer
Melisa Hunter, 1st shift, surgical services, for Secretary

If elected I can promise you two things.
We will all work hard for you and we will continue to ask much of you, because what will make us a strong Local is involvement of our members.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Labor-Mangement Meetings

We had another productive Labor-Management meeting Tuesday and I just wanted to update you.

First, what is a Labor-Management meeting?

Representatives of the nurses and management meet at least monthly to discuss issues related to working conditions and the administration of the joint Backus Federation of Nurses/Backus Hospital contract. Often, it involves interpretation of the contract language.

For instance, there was some misunderstanding about when vacations can be requested and approved. (how far in advance)

We now have an understanding that should work for both sides. Vacations for winter prime time are submitted in July and for summer prime time in January. Vacations the rest of the year are submitted up to 6 months in advance for full week vacations. We are currently in discussions about partial week vacations and single days off and we'll work it out.

There are a handful of nurses who have issues concerning their wage increases. We've worked out a solution for some of them and we are all considering a possible solution for the rest. Again, we'll work it out.

Scheduling was a big topic Tuesday.

The first thing we need to acknowledge is that patient care needs come first.

Second, the financial stability of the hospital is in everyone's best interest is everyone's responsibility.

Third, prior to the contract the hospital had the right to change schedules and work assignments as they saw fit. Some changes had been planned, but had to be put on hold, because of negotiations.

Under the contract the hospital retains many of these rights that are needed to run the hospital.

Some of these rights are modified, and with some, any effect on the nurses must be negotiated.

Any changes in scheduling will be rolled out in an orderly manner, with advance notice so nurses can make plans. They will be discussed at Labor-Management, and no changes will be made just for the sake of making a change, nor will any be "because of the contract".

Here's an example. We are currently discussing the proper way to handle requests for days off for education. Both sides want to encourage education and understand the need at times for a certain schedule to accommodate, but we also recognize that when one nurse's schedule changes it effects every other nurse's schedule.

We discussed several options and will meet again to continue the discussion. We'll work it out. The point is, it will be a joint discussion and agreement.

The contract has been reviewed and signed and we are making copies. You will all get one soon.

One great way to get a contract is to come to our open house, next Tuesday, 12 noon till 5pm at your union office, 308 Salem Turnpike. Nominations for officers will be from 12-2 and voting from 2-5. We will have food.

We are off to a good start with Labor-Management meetings. We are building a good working relationship, but it will take time. There will be misunderstandings and misinterpretations on both sides, but we will work them out. If something doesn't sound right to you, if you don't understand why something is so, please ask.

As with all relationships, their needs to be a joint willingness to work at it, at Labor-Management meetings we have achieved that.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

When in the Course of human events....

The Fourth of July is a time to look back......and to look ahead.

Our country is blessed to be set upon some of the greatest principles of humankind and those principles have often been set to pen.

The Declaration on Independence.
When in the Course of human events ......
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The constitution of the United States.
We the People.......
of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity....

The Gettysburg Address.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live........ that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Strong words, strong principles.


We are blessed to have a nation dedicated to such high principles. We are blessed by the many sacrifices by so many people to secure those principles. We are obligated by our history to uphold those principles.

We the people have an obligation to participate in our government of the people,by the people, for the people. We have an obligation to ensure that all men and women are treated as being created equal, with certain unalienable rights. We have an obligation to promote the general welfare.

Let us stop our complaining, let us work towards a nation that our forefathers envisioned, a nation of activists, involved in government, working towards the welfare of all it's citizens.

If we fail to do this, if we sit on the sidelines and do nothing but complain, then we leave our nation to a few, to special interests, to the elite.

Our forefathers placed their lives on the line because they lived under those conditions, let us honor them by being involved.

The struggle to form this nation, based on these principles, continues every day.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Because you believe

Before I get started I should make one thing clear.
The things I write on this blog are my opinion and mine alone. It is not the opinion of all the nurses at Backus Hospital, the Backus Federation of Nurses, AFT Connecticut, the American Federation of Teachers, or anyone else.

I have spent 10-20 hours a week for the last 2 years in a cause I deeply believe in. I have received no pay for any of this time, in fact, I have had to pass up hours upon hours of overtime that I used to work, and my salary has suffered because of it. Even now, when my wife goes off to bed, I am usually up for a couple of hours, returning emails to member nurses and other Union leaders, researching our contract, bylaws and labor law to try to better understand it all and preparing for meetings.

I'm not complaining.
I do all of it because I dream of a Backus Hospital where a young, bright, energetic, new nurse can come to work knowing what the future holds. Where she can work under a contract like all other professionals, where she can know that her income, her insurance, and her benefits have the stability she needs to plan for her families future, because she stands in solidarity with her fellow nurses. I have a vision of a Backus Hospital where nurses want to stay, where high turnover is not endemic, and where the experience of the nursing staff makes Backus a safe and profitable hospital.

I know I am not alone in this.
Many others have given hour after hour of their own time.

I was there when 90% of the nurses voted in a free and fair election. I was there when the votes were counted and a clear majority chose to join together and form our union.

Since then, both nurses and management have spent countless hours in negotiations to come to a contract agreement, not a "union contract", but a contract agreement between the hospital and the nurses, jointly owned and administered.
We have begun the process of Labor-Management meetings to smoothly administer our contract and we have a professional, respectful relationship between all at the meetings, nurses and management. It was a rocky beginning but in the past couple of weeks I have had cordial, respectful conversations with David Whitehead and Mary Bylone. We have built a process where we can disagree without being disagreeable and where we are committed to finding solutions.
We are making progress.


When I got phone calls today, while I was spending some time with my wife, that a nurse was in the cafeteria trying to sign up nurses to call for a new vote against her fellow nurses...........

I was upset.

I have had many conversations with these nurses in which I have listened to their point of view with respect. I have begged them and offered them the opportunity to become involved, to stand with their fellow nurses, to help steer the direction of their union. More importantly she was there when the votes were counted to form this union, she was there when the contract was voted on.

Apparently, some would rather tear down than build up. We worked hard to get a contract with real raises and keeping health insurance costs low. We worked hard to raise differentials and get a fair process for adjusting grievances. We worked hard to end pay for performance and now a fringe group would like to tear it all up. Give it all back.

Thankfully their efforts are entirely in vain and everyone knows it but a small handful of radicals. Its just disappointing.

I do want you to vote again. On July 10 I want you to vote for your officers, President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
Vote, so you can send a message,
that you believe in a Backus Hospital so many have worked so hard for these past two years. Vote because you believe together we can make it happen.