I am a labor and delivery nurse, and I have done labor and delivery for almost 12 years. I got involved not just with the contract campaign but with WSNA in general in July of 2019 when I moved to Washington. My family moved up here from Utah, where unions are few and far between, and there is definitely not a union for any kind of health care worker.
Being new to union nursing, I was fascinated by it all and immediately wanted to learn as much as I could and be as involved as I could be. I was almost overwhelmed when I learned in more detail what contract negotiations entailed, how long this union had been in mediation and what the union was fighting to keep for the nurses here in Washington. I went to my first union meeting, and immediately my heart was set on fire for this union because I realized that for the first time in 14 years of working in the health care industry, I had a voice, WE had a voice and we had the opportunity to fight for the things we need to be able to better serve our patients and our community. I saw how all these nurses had been working together for more than a year, and I was excited that I was stepping in when I did so that I had the opportunity to be a part of it all.
The major turning point for me was my second meeting, when there were questions about the sick time plan being proposed by management, which eliminated our earned illness time and shifted to the new state plan plus PTO. Nurses were asking if it was really so bad and did we really want to strike, etc. I raised my hand and stood up and told everyone that I had just moved from a place where, for 14 years, I had been living the “plan” that was being proposed to us and that we definitely would NOT want it, that what we were fighting for and potentially going to strike over was, in fact, VERY worth this fight that we were in the middle of. I got a little emotional while I spoke, and when I finished and sat down, people clapped and the officer at the front (Stevie) made teary-eyed contact with me and mouthed “thank you.” I was hooked.
I could go on and on about everything I was involved in after the strike authorization vote and how much I thrived on the energy of it all, but that would be an article all on its own.
I was very impressed with how the union works to get information out about the monthly meetings. I was happy to see that they offered four different meetings in one day to make it possible for anyone to be able to attend — after work, before work, in the middle of the day when kids are at school, etc. I was very happy with the contract we achieved, and I am so thankful to all the people involved in making that happen; I know there are more people than the officers we came to know so well through the meetings.
I have big plans to stay very involved with the union. Maybe it’s because I have a greater appreciation for what it means to be a union nurse because I wasn’t a union nurse for so long; maybe it’s because after 14 years in health care I have finally found a home for my “loud” voice, my even bigger personality and my huge passion for nursing. Regardless, I want to stay involved, and I hope that I can encourage others to become more involved, too, because many hands make light work, and this most recent contract campaign proves that if we all stand up and work hard TOGETHER, we can achieve great things. Union nursing is not a luxury that every nurse has, and it’s not something to be taken for granted. I am Callie, and I am proud to be a WSNA Union Nurse.