Governor Carcieri Challenges Nurses to Unionize

In today’s Providence Journal — Nurses hoped the Governor would support a bill to ban mandatory overtime, but they were looking in the wrong place, as he instead promised a veto.

‘I think we’re all feeling kind of crushed’,said Barbara Hunger, a registered nurse at Women & Infants Hospital. Hunger said she and a group of nurses had met with the governor’s policy staff a day earlier to urge him to sign the bill rather than merely letting it become law without his signature, as he does with the vast majority of bills. Hunger said they knew a veto might be in the cards, but had remained optimistic.”

I don’t know why the nurses are so surprised. Gov. Carcieri ran as a businessman. There’s a big audit he’s supposed to do sometime that’s going to solve all our problems. If he could run the state like a business he’d just lay off Providence and give a raise to East Greenwich. Why would he sign a bill that would give more power to workers and put pressure on management? Nurses, get real, he’s a Republican.

Republicans have a philosophy of individual responsibility, (unless you’re born rich), and the Governor actually had some good advice for nurses and other health care workers – organize.

“Carcieri wrote in his veto message that forced overtime is something that ‘should be negotiated through the collective-bargaining process.’

There are no workers more skilled, smart and essential than health care workers. We are the part of the labor force best equipped to unionize.

For those who don’t like the idea of a union, I have to point out that no matter how good you are, your individual voice won’t carry very far against a large corporation. Over and over nurses discover that while love motivates a lot of what we do, money talks. Countless programs that provide excellent and necessary medical care are cut or dispersed when the budget needs trimming. We know what we do, and we can sleep at night because we give good care, but as workers we are a commodity. That’s why they call it, ‘Human Resources’.

If you are cynical about unions, that’s good. Unionizing is only the first step. You have to participate and hold your union accountable. Self-government is a lot of work. That’s why only 40% of us vote and no one knows who’s on the Supreme Court. Your government, local and national; and your union, is as good or bad as you let it be.

Nurses, don’t take this lying down. The Governor has thrown out a challenge because he thinks you are too nice, and too tired to take him up on it. Another Governor tried to ‘kick butts’ and despite his muscles and superpowers got his own butt kicked instead. California nurses beat the Terminator. Let’s see what Rhode Island can do.

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One response

  1. The Guv’ quote made me laugh. Here is always attempting to decrease state workers’ salary/benefits through the Lege rather than negotiate. He ought to take his own advice
    He also said this about the child care workers’. But when they did, he no longer wanted to negotiate with them.
    He speaks with forked tongue.

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