28 September 2009

Impending Strike?

For months now, there has been talk of a possible strike at the hospital. The union that may strike represents the nurses, physician assistants, social workers, and many of the technicians who work there. Their contact ends on 30 September, and negotiations began months ago in hopes of avoiding a strike.

Basically, the union wants the same thing most unions want in these situations - more pay, more benefits, etc. And the hospital insists it isn't there. While I can't speak for the hospital, I can speak for myself and the rest of us non-union members. NONE of us got raises this year. ALL of us had to pay more for our health care coverage this year (in my case, it was approximately $25 more per pay period), and we ALL took hits to the educational benefits package.

Earlier this year, there were two MASSIVE rounds of lay-offs because the hospital was $34 million in debt as of February 2009. We closed one of our satellite hospitals, and we closed the corporate office. Folks, this is NOT a health system that is sitting on a bunch of extra money.

Today, there was a pre-strike rally. Part of Broad Street was closed so the ralliers could march from one part of the campus to another while chanting "HEY [HOSPITAL], YOU CAN'T HIDE." Police cars, news vans, bull horns. We had orders to remain inside the building until the rally was over, which didn't take long, as there were maybe only 100-150 people involved.

While the pre-strike rally was only mildly annoying (while simultaneously somewhat amusing), the actual strike is what has me apprehensive. On the first day of the strike, anyone whose shift begins from 7:00 a.m. to noon, must report to the hospital by 6:00 a.m. People who drive to work (not me, thankfully) have to park in a special lot and will be shuttled to a particular entrance, which will have a police presence. Extra security will guard the parking lot so the cars of those crossing the picket line will be protected. Hospital administrators will be parking in an undisclosed location. It is expected that the picketers will be blocking hospital entrances, and that it will take up to 12 hours to get an injunction to stop this.

In the meantime, traveller nurses have been hired to cross the picket line. Traveller nurses are GOOD nurses; they have to be. However, they don't have the same rapport with our doctors that our regular nurses do. They don't know our patient population, or our long-term patients (and we have a LOT of long-termers). They don't know our policies, procedures, etc. They all flew in today for three days of intensive training, but as of Friday, the hospital will have a whole house of all new nurses, for all intents and purposes.

Wish us luck.

(Have I mentioned that I'm glad I'll be out of town for the first part of this mess???)


  1. Wow, that sucks. I feel for the patients and the staff.

  2. Min: In between eating, perhaps u could get ur facts completely accurate. First and foremost, we do not want a RAISE. We understand that u work for minimum wage because u have a minimum education; however, we are educated and therefore do make a little more than minimum wage. Have u ever been involved in a baseless malpractice lawsuit? Have u been exposed to HIV (other than in your personal life?); Hepatitis C? Gotta run -- got to get to a code to SAVE A LIFE!!!!