When I was hired at Sacred Heart, I chose not to join the union. Coming from the South, and from a “right to work” state, I have some very deep personal convictions about employee and employer relationships. I have considered joining the union several times in the past but had concerns about my dues being used to support organizations and political candidates whose agendas and actions do not align with my faith.
During my tenure at Sacred Heart, I have been an ANM, a clinical educator, and am currently a staff nurse. Over the past 20 years, I have witnessed the deterioration of respectful relationships with upper management and the abandonment of the core values that made Sacred Heart an “employer of choice.” I no longer believe I can expect a mutually respectful working relationship with senior leadership to achieve safe staffing for patients and employees. Most of all, I am angry that administration appears to have no conscience about stripping away our sick time, which allows us to care for ourselves and our loved ones.
I was able to use my Earned Illness Time and Paid Time Off to care for both of my parents, who were suffering from terminal illnesses at the same time. I had overlapping, intermittent FMLAs, one for each parent, that allowed me to care for them and allowed them to die with dignity in their own home. My mother died of brain cancer, then my father died of ALS a year and five days later. During this period of 20 months, if I had not been able to use my EIT, my parents would have had to move from their farm into a nursing home. Because their care needs were different, they would not have been able to stay together in the same nursing home. It would not have been possible for family and friends stay with them to help and be with them in the end.
I also had a son who had three chest wall surgeries. He was in his early 20s and a dependent on my insurance. He was not allowed to drive or lift because of the surgery and use of narcotics. I was able to use EIT to help care for him. I was very blessed to have my EIT available to care for my family. I was also blessed that my co-workers were willing to trade shifts and work with my schedule to allow me to be available when I was not able to get someone to care for my family. My co-workers truly cared for me and eased my way during this difficult time.
As I mentioned before, I have a very strong religious conviction that employer/employee relationships should be mutually respectful. I also believe that an employer should not ask any more of an employee than they are willing to give, nor should an employer pay less for a skill or job than they would be willing to accept. Employers and employees should practice the Biblical teaching of treating people the way you want to be treated. My love ones deserve to have the same care as the loved ones of senior leadership and organization executives. “Know me, care for me, ease my way” includes helping me be available to care for my family.
Sadly, I believe the moral decline and proposed unethical treatment of employees by Providence violates my religious convictions, and I can no longer remain neutral. While I still do not agree with some of the tactics and philosophies of unions on a global scale, I am now ready to be an active member with a voting voice through WSNA.