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.

So...

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.
No.

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.

15 comments:

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Annemarie McCarthy said...
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Eve Ellis RN, not a union member any longer said...
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