"Our goal is not a strike - our goal is a fair and just contract." We had a recent union meeting, and that phrase was said a few times, and for me it really hit home.
With strike assessment and preparation now in full swing at Kadlec, the threat becomes more and more real.
Make no mistake: I will strike if I have to, without hesitation. But that is a scary thought. The fact that my employer values myself and my colleagues so little, that they'd allow us to walk away from our work (which we all know is more of a passion), is astounding and says a whole lot more about them than it does about us.
To be clear, since it seems the community knows very little about what's been going on, the nurses at Kadlec are NOT asking for anything of financial significance. (Of course we are asking for a typical cost of living wage – but nothing at all extreme). Instead, we're asking to NOT be robbed of our PTO. Kadlec/Providence's "proposal" cuts PTO from the vast majority of nurses – I myself stand to lose almost 2 weeks per year. That's insane. And for what purpose?? What rationale can Kadlec/Providence give me that warrants me giving that away??
You know what else us crazy, selfish nurses are asking for? Safe staffing standards. We must be crazy to want our employer to provide enough nurses to appropriately care for our sick patients. Enough nurses to make sure YOU are cared for the way you deserve. Enough nurses to allow us to take appropriate rest and meal breaks...but apparently that's asking too much.
If this seems like it might be a re-run, you're right. 4 years ago, I was on the negotiating team where cuts were first introduced to us – Kadlec/Providence wanted to rob us of our PTO as well as EIB. EIB was essentially "sick time" but could be used to care for our sick family members as well as ourselves. After a long, grueling 9+ months of negotiating, Kadlec agreed to "only" take our EIB and they'd let us keep our PTO. How generous of them. So to care for a sick family member, or to care for ourselves if we got sick, we'd be taking from our PTO bank. And now, 4 years later, here we sit...once again being told to "give" our employer more of our time off.
My job, although I truly love it, is exhausting. Physically, emotionally, spiritually...you name it, it's exhausting. I wouldn't trade it for any other job in the world – but I will tell you, I *need* my time off. I need time to regroup, to unwind, to renew my spirit. I'm a better nurse when I'm not burned out – which means in your darkest and most vulnerable times, when you have the unfortunate need to be my patient – you're in better hands.
Through tears in our eyes, a co-worker and I discussed how heartbreaking it will be to walk away from "our" babies – these tiny little fighters who constantly amaze me. But I have to remind myself that if Kadlec/Providence cared about their patients nearly as much as we did, we wouldn't be in this situation. They would recognize the importance of my sanity, my health, my resilience, and the trickle-down effect that has on my patients. Shame on them. Shame on them for devaluing us. Shame on them for devaluing their patients. Shame on them for caring more about the almighty dollar than saving a life. Shame. On. Them.
Enough is enough. While Providence and Kadlec CEOs sit atop their ivory towers, making millions in profits – they have the audacity to try to steal from their nurses. I have a feeling, they're going to find out in the most crucial way, that it won't be without a fight. We will fight for our patients, fight for OUR health and safety, and fight for each other. We have to – they've left us no other choice.
I included a picture below of an article written about the Kadlec strike in 1993. It warms my heart to read about the solidarity and the camaraderie formed on the picket line. I hope Kadlec/Providence wakes up before they put us all down there again.