Every nurse comes to Kadlec from a different origin and for different reasons. For me, I drove across the country to work here and be represented by a union. It is a hospital with a wonderful mission statement, everyone here really cares about their patients, and the benefits package was a wonderful selling point. You see, I come from a state where unions are not a thing. If the hospital wanted to cut your paid time off, institute mandatory low census, or make your health insurance cost more, they could so without ever considering you.
Any of the above benefit cuts is a hill worth dying on; you need choose only one. Providence, who now owns Kadlec, has been generous enough to threaten to cut all of them at once. Thankfully, we have the option to tell Providence “no deal” when they propose these cuts to us because of our union and our vote to strike.
Even with only one year at Kadlec under my belt, my PTO accrual and cap are being reduced. What’s worse, my coworkers who have been here for 5, 10, 15 years or more are being cut even deeper! These are nurses I love and respect, and their experience has made me a better nurse working beside them. I voted yes to strike to tell them “I have your back.”
The benefits package Providence is seeking to curtail is also a primary attracter of strong talent. I remember the manager at the time selling the position to me: “No mandatory low census,” she said, knowing full well it was a gem of a benefit. In case you do not work in health care, let me explain. If a health care worker operates under a system of “mandatory low census,” there is no such thing as a light day at work. The moment your shift starts to feel easier, management will send one of your coworkers home and give you their workload to cut costs. Nurses deserve moments to breathe just as much as any other employee in their place of work.
I’m fighting to keep these benefits in place for my mental health, for the sake of my coworkers, and to continue to recruit strong, talented future coworkers. If I have to strike to ensure that happens, I will do so.
Our patients deserve us at our best. If Providence wishes to continue delivering its promise of “quality, compassionate health care for everyone,” they should want us at our best, too.