In spite of all the insanity of the last month (which has included two patients leaving AMA, learning the hard way what "mandatory reporter" means under California law, and caring for an elderly Spanish-speaking lady who refused to believe that I was a woman until someone told her I was pregnant) I like my new job. I'm still getting used to it, and there are many days where I get done with my charting, drive home, and think "Thank God it's day shift!" but overall, I enjoy my work.
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.