Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday in CinCity



I try not to talk much about work because, after all, isn't that why we blog?? To travel down another road less familiar than our own?

However, the facts are that I work at a Big Fat Teaching Hospital which is full of unions. I worked there before the nurses had a union, was there as a student when the union was voted in and have been there while union strength has been gradually declining. There's a reason unions exist at this hospital and it's basically because there's not much respect by Administration for the nurses, or really any of us providing the hands-on labor.

Most of us live with that and ignore it because we have other agendas for working there--new nurses come in for the experiences they garner and then move on to travel assignments or, more recently, back to school. Older nurses, the Baby-Boomers, products of our peace-flower power-power to the people generation came and stayed because we felt called to work with the indigent and provide good care to all.
Times have changed though and healthcare is broken. It's difficult to provide good care to anyone. A collapsed system is equal opportunity. How American of us.



It's the end of June and our contract ends June 30th. Negotiations have been in place since March with little movement. The contract ratification begins tomorrow and may or may not pass. A NO vote means a strike. A YES vote means after 30 years of service I will now essentially be paying the hospital for the privilege of working there.

Either way, for this camel I do believe it's the last straw.



13 comments:

  1. Change can be good. It is hard to be undervalued day after day.

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  2. Makes my blood boil. Hope something shifts / people come to their senses / the new administration wrestles this (health care) beast to the ground. Suppose we shouldn't hold our breath, though.

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  3. Do unions work on a hospital by hospital basis, not for all hospitals state- or nationwide? Does each hospital have to negotiate its own rates and conditions? If so, how very anti-labour. I worked for an International Labour Organisation (the USA included) but this is the first time I've understood this to be the case?
    Keep fighting, you're doing a job worthy of respect and decent conditions.

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  4. My health system has broken our backs. While we did get a pay increase this year, they've taken away 2 vacation days-1 this year and one 5 years ago. They've increased our contribution to our health care, done away with the 401K matching and this year tried to take away our mileage reimbursement. My manager told me I get paid too much mileage. I don't get paid any more than the IRS recommendations. Then they lump my reimbursement into my pay so that I can pay tax on it all over again. Can you see the steam coming out of my ears? Our national CEO made 2.5 million last year! How's that for pay for the head of a not for profit organization. My organization is a Catholic health system that professes service to the poor, but in my not so humble opinion, that's all lip service.

    I don't know much about travel nursing, but nurses I know who do this seem to like the work. Good luck.

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  5. It seems to me the health service almost all over the world is outrageously unjust.. I'm not an overly worldly wise, political or overtly intelligent being... but even I can see the wrongness in it all!

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  6. Oh, so sorry. As someone outside the healthcare system I have so much frustration, I can only imagine what it's like for someone who faces the problems day in/day out.

    If you step away, I hope you can do so knowing you have made a big difference to a lot of people. Leave remembering the good stuff, and not el crap-o.

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  7. Ouch. Hospitals are closing, or have been closed by the state, hospitals are suing other hospitals to keep them from opening as for-profit institutions, and nurses went on strike last week for precisely the reasons you describe. The system is broken. Meanwhile courageous souls like yourself (and it does take courage to do what you do, loads of it) get up every day, enter the trenches--and smile.
    If this is the last straw, I agree with Pyzahn: remember all the good that you have done, for it is huge.

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  8. I've about worn out my CD by Brandi...love her stuff. Would you strike if she and the Indigos came out on line and sang?
    I'm being overly light because it saddens me that someone so qualified and devoted is actually on the brink of leaving it all behind. What's going to happen to this country if the mess isn't fixed, and how are we to do that? Maybe if more nurses became politicians, community organizers even, there'd be some hope. One of Oregon's finest governors was John Kitzhaber, an ER M.D. ...

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  9. Ha!! Lydia, I would strike if YOU came out and sang on the line with us. I'm so fed up with this hospital's administration I can barely keep my mouth quiet. In the 30 years I've worked there they are in the top two most horriblest, awfulest set of managers I've yet to see. Very paper and $$$$ focused, patients be damned.

    Friko, if a group of people want a union they bear the responsibilty of contacting a union--and there are a few to choose from, although I believe that many have merged as the nurses did with the AFL-CIO-- gathering support and getting a majority vote. Very difficult to do as the employer is likely to harrass and pressure the "malcontents." But each hospital must negotiate their own contract, so our contract is different say from the VA's (Veteran's Administration) contract. Same union/different employer. Very labor unfriendly, but the South is far worse.
    Thanks for all the words of encouragement. I feel not at all courageous but a whole lot of fed-up-ness with short-sighted, self-interested employers. We were picketing in 1994 about these patient care issues and what we could see coming down the road and oh, guess what, here it is. In the words of Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, surprise."

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  10. Things aren't much better in the UK, sad to say. The day they started running hospitals as though they were businesses was the day it all started to slide. My city has a Big Fat Teaching Hospital too, opened with much pomp a few years ago and financed from the private sector. Now, my sis, who is a lead nurse there has to pay £10 a year if she wants a clock on the wall of her office. Hang in there, you're doing such good work.

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  11. Oh,hell. I hear you so loudly and clearly. As a teacher, I can relate. It's the same thing in our world. And we hear such ridiculous bullshit from people if we dare ask for more money or decent benefits: "What about the kids?"; "It shouldn't be about money, it should be about the kids." Well, let me tell you something: When I go to buy a gallon of gas, I don't have to pay any less because I'm a Teacher Doing It For The Kids. My loaf of bread and gallon of milk don't get discounted because I Do It For The Kids. My own kids don't get a cut-rate on their college tuition because their mom is out there Doing Work For The Kids.

    When will everyone simply Wake The Hell UP?!

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  12. Unions are needed now more than ever. I thank you for sharing your thoughts on this...more voices such as yours need to be heard! I know it's not the same thing, but I know that sometimes school administrators have a similar attitude towards teachers...

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Hey, thanks for your thoughts and your time:>)