Monday, December 17, 2007
Unfortunately, I was hired on in the middle of a six-month long labor dispute between the hospital's parent company and the California Nurses Association. In mid-October, I was actually in the Kansas City airport preparing to visit family in Washington when I saw "[Name of Corporation] nurses on strike at ten Bay Area hospitals!" on CNN and realized "Oh my God! I just got hired by them!"
So as the negotiations between the union and the administration have continued and bogged down once more, I have made no secret of the fact that "I have no idea what's going on!" When they voted to strike again, it wasn't hard for me to decide what to do. I mean, how difficult is it to not show up for work?
Picketing, however, is another story. Picketing implies that not only do you support the cause enough to hold up signs and demonstrate about it, but that you are willing to share your convictions with others. And although I've been deluged with competing propaganda from both the union and the administration ("[Name of Corporation]'s Last Best and Final offer refused to address any of your concerns!" "We're sorry the California Nurses Association values their profits more than you our your patients...") I still find it difficult to filter through all the spin to sort out what the real issues are.
So I told the union rep that while I wouldn't cross the picket lines this weekend, I wouldn't picket for them, either. And I asked if they had some form of e-mailing list for keeping people up to date on what was going on. Receiving official e-mails has been a marked improvement over listening to workplace gossip for sorting out what's going on, but it leaves quite a bit to be desired.
For one thing, I'm getting sick of "solidarity." I think the concept is fantastic, but the word is starting to be just a bit over-used.
And then there's Jim. Jim goes to our church, and is also my uber-manager. I'm not sure what his official title is, but he manages at least three nursing units, one of which I work on. He's several steps above me on the org chart, and I'm reasonably certain that he's been a nurse longer than I've been alive.
He's also single-parenting two toddlers.
While my part in this whole strike and lockout mess has been fairly simple (don't show up for work) Jim has been working eighteen hour days to make sure patient care continues and all goes smoothly for the hospital. (Yet another reason why you couldn't pay me enough to work in nursing administration.)
But the church has really rallied around Jim and his kids. Families from our church have been watching his kids for the last several days. Just to make sure that in the midst of all the strike insanity, Jim has one less thing to worry about.
Union politics be damned--now that's solidarity.
Friday, December 14, 2007
So I packed the amazing silk long johns I bought when we were living in Nome. (Being true Nomeites, my coworkers at Nome's outpatient clinic got much amusement out of my complaints that I was wearing long underwear all summer--and was still cold. Meanwhile, they were celebrating 22 hours of daylight and 55 degree weather with tee shirts, shorts, and lots of fishing.) And my thickest socks, gloves, hats, scarves, and as many layers of other clothing as I could still fit my pregnant body into.
And I still was cold! The worst part was at the graveside service, where it was snowing and the wind was driving it in our faces. My teeth were chattering too hard to hear Pastor Dennis' kind words. (As I've never known any minister to complete a graveside service in under fifteen minutes before, I take comfort in the fact that I was not the only human Popsicle at Winona Cemetery.)
Brian finally got to meet almost all of my first cousins on Mom's side. (The only one who's missing from the pictures is Rachel, who gave birth three weeks earlier.)
(And my cousin Larry (in the Hawaiian shirt) wins this trip's award for what not to say to a pregnant woman: "I know I shouldn't pat your belly, but you're like my sister--it's so weird to see you fat!" He's fortunate that potlucks always put me in a good mood.)
I also got to see my friend Renell, who I hadn't seen since high school.
Grandma said that since we were all together, she wanted to make sure that family pictures got taken, so we took lots of family pictures. Have you ever considered how hard it is to get sixteen people to all look at the camera at the same time, let alone "smile naturally"?
Here's Mom and her sisters and brother:
EJ got back from Iraq less than two weeks earlier, so he was able to make it. Since we were there for less than 48 hours, I didn't get to spend much time with him, but he and Brian were able to squeeze in a round or two of pool. This might not be the most flattering family portrait we've ever done, but the matching shifty expressions are true-to-life.