29 September 2009

More on the strike

Today, the nurses took their "final vote" on whether to strike. As they came back from their meetings (there was a series of meetings throughout the day to accommodate various shifts), everyone came back with a different story - they're definitely striking, they're definitely NOT striking, they're striking but only for three days, they're striking but not until mid-October, etc.

I don't know if THEY know what the fuck is going on. Or, as Mom pointed out, maybe THEIR marching orders from the union were to come back and have different stories to confuse us.

At any rate, we got another edict from the hospital today. We are to use the "buddy system" when crossing the picket line. If any demonstrators try to detain us, we are to try to get their name, note the time, how long we are detained, etc. For those of us who take the subway to work, the hospital has now made arrangements that SEPTA (that's the public transit people, for you non-locals) Police will be at the intersections where people come to street level from the subway to assist us to the hospital.

Until today, I have been trying to have a very "these negotiations have nothing to do with me" attitude about everything. But it's been difficult. I worry for the patients because we'll be losing nurses, social workers, physician assistants, physical therapists, medical technicians, pharmacy technicians... the list goes on and on. All at once. Hospital administration assures us that patient care will not be compromised, because they have made arrangements and contingency plans, etc. And while I believe them, I still have concerns for the patients.

However, information that came to light today has made it exceedingly difficult for me to retain the attitude that this has nothing to do with me and everyone is just doing their job and trying to make their way in the world. Here's what I found out:

Average hourly wage of nurses: $39.80
47% of nurses at work make between $75,000-100,000/year.
23% of nurses at work make between $150,000-206,000/year.

Now, a few things. That hourly wage is a BASE. So that doesn't include shift differential (shift-diff), hourly bonus for being charge nurse, or overtime. We did some maths today and figured that a charge nurse on an evening weekend shift could pull in about $54/hour. Also note that the those figures for the annual salary only account for 70% of the nurses. But there's also a gap from $100,000-150,000. So some of those 30% are in that gap. But the rest are in that under %75,000, and we figured they're the nurses right out of nursing school.

One of the nurses today approached one of my co-workers. She said that she was upset because the hospital wanted her to give things back. My co-worker asked her what she meant. She said, "Well, they aren't giving me any more money, AND I have to give up more money for my health insurance." My co-worker said, "That's what we had to do."

"And you don't see that as a step backwards?"

"Well, I figured I have a job. I have a job I LIKE. The hospital doesn't have any money right now, and when it does, they'll pass it along to us again when they can."

And the nurse huffed off.

Sorry, no sympathy here.


  1. I don't know the full story so I can't really offer an opinion. But part of me always thinks that people should be somewhat happy that they still have jobs and benefits given the current economic system. Times are tough for everyone right now.

  2. As someone whose job is being eliminated (even thought the company SAYS they are going to try to place everyone in other positions) I'm a bit jaded. Another woman who has my job in another building told me last week "you love your job - but right now in this economy, I love having a job)

  3. Another thought -- if the hospital doesn't have money, and you try to squeeze blood out of a stone - won't the next step be eliminating some of the nurses etc? And then the same people will be complaining about being overworked. And that is the really scary time for patients.