It got to be a running joke. Every week Sharp cut something new: hours, raises, vacation, sick time. Then we heard they were going to sell to an eastern company. East coast travelers told us the company was known for cannibalizing systems, closing hospitals and laying off RNs. That’s when we said we better get together and get a union. It took us over three years.
Summer and I are the union’s first two Quality Liaisons. With negotiations coming up we’re a focal point for more nurses to realize the importance of the union. In orientation, Sharp actively encourages nurses not to join. We tell them the truth: you have more power and solidarity and can win more for patients and RNs if you have the numbers. But it starts with taking care of the members, and the new memberships come out of that. I told a group recently that our new raises came from the union. Then one nurse said to another, “Have you signed up yet?” They took it from there. We have to stand together for the benefit of our patients, ourselves and our families.