My L+M sisters and brothers,
One year ago you gave us a gift.
You showed us how to put others before ourselves.
You stood up for your patients and your community.
You showed us what is possible when we stand together.
Your administration thought that profits should come before patients,
that you would not have the conviction to stand against them,
that you would not have the solidarity to stand strong together,
that the community would not stand with you,
that your political allies would fold,
that the labor community would sit this one out.
They were wrong on all counts.
It was not easy, the outcome was not certain.
It was wet and it was cold.
You had worries about health insurance, lost wages, Christmas presents, and more.
But you sat and talked with each other in the office to work through concerns, you stood under gas heaters on the coldest nights so that the picket line would always be manned, you watched outdoor movies wrapped in blankets to show you remained strong.
And the community!
Like the manna in the desert, the coffee and donuts never ran out. Cars would drive up, a smiling face, a word of encouragement, more coffee, more donuts.
The building trades cooked breakfast and lunch for you, right there on the street.
The Elks provided anther dinner.
Local bars and pizza offered discounts.
The fire department delivered Santa with toys from your union sisters and brothers.
There were more politicians than at a convention, and they returned again and again.
The shirts and the hats, and the signs showed the breath of the Labor Community that came to your support, including our AFT president, Randi.
Community organizations and community members provided so much support.
You had no way to know that it would turn out this way, but you had faith, you had solidarity, you had leadership, and you had a belief that your patients and your community hospital would suffer if you did not take a stand.
It was a stand you had to take for the same reason you became healthcare professionals,
it's apart of who you are.
Caring for patients is what you do.
Thank you for standing up for your patients and your community.
Thank you for the lesson in solidarity.
Backus Federation of Nurses
AFT Local 5149