Notes from the field 1/10/19

We are all continually inundated by lots of information, making it difficult to direct our action with clear intention and force. What do we, as staff at Whittier, need to focus on right now, to help us feel safer, more united, and to help each other find meaning in our work? This was the essence of the discussion over lunch Monday, between a few of us who were trying to figure out how we can all best stay connected and share information with each other. We’d like to do that going forward through a biweekly News from Our Union.

Then, Tuesday, we learned several more highly skilled, critically important, loved, but badly treated medical providers are leaving. Can you blame them? We want to cry, rage, then cry again, but we can only wish them well, and plan their goodbye parties. And many of us may wish to leave, or plan on leaving ourselves, in order to keep our sanity. That’s OK. It’s the best we can do under the circumstances.

Management treats us like we are replaceable and we should especially leave if we have feelings about wanting better working conditions or wanting to provide better care for our patients. Ironically, by treating us this way, it creates an enormous turnover of staff, which is highly disruptive to our patients and which is a primary reason for the lost revenue we are constantly hearing about. Strange way to run a clinic, isn’t it?

In the midst of this, four members are intending to return, any day now, assuming a favorable NLRB ruling. We are trying to figure out what we can do on their return, to make it memorable, to bring all of us back together, uplift our spirits, to make things more bearable.

By voting to form our union, we access the strong legal support of 1199SEIU and federal protection of the NLRB to create a safer, more stable place to work, though it may not feel that way yet. We work through collective bargaining to create a strong contract, to have more control and say over how we best do our work. We now know more than ever that we need this contract and the ultimate protection of our union and resources of 1199SEIU to feel safe and to be treated fairly, as professionals who are dedicated to caring for our patients.

And we know we can only do this together! No one of us can tolerate this treatment alone. So we want to know from each other, every day “How can I help you to make it through today?” and “What do you need from me today?” And we want to know “Did this email help?”

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January 10, 2018