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<em>Just Work</em>: An Open Letter to CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro

This week, healthcare workers in Ohio saw their dreams of forming a union derailed after the California Nurses Association bombarded workers with wildly false and misleading leaflets.
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This week, nearly 8,000 nurses and other healthcare workers in Ohio saw their dreams of forming a union derailed after the California Nurses Association (CNA) flooded the state with hostile organizers and bombarded workers with wildly false and misleading leaflets [PDF] and phone calls urging them to vote against the union.

For three years the workers joined with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members, leaders and staff to form their union. They sent letters to Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP) officials, mobilized community support, campaigned for fair organizing rules, and signed petitions saying they wanted to unite in SEIU. The effort resulted in ground rules agreed to by both the workers and CHP that were designed to put the interests of workers first--not the union or employer. They called for quick elections without delays, equal access to information from both sides, and guidelines to ensure honest discourse.

Because of the union-busting onslaught by CNA, the ethical, fair and democratic elections scheduled for today and Friday at nine (CHP) hospitals in Ohio have been suspended.

The following is an open letter to Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, sent from those of us nurses who were denied the chance to unite this week for better jobs and healthcare:

March 12, 2008

Dear Rose Ann DeMoro,

It's hard for us to imagine how someone who calls herself a labor leader could purposely do what you have done to us and our families. You don't know any of us. You have never been to our homes or met our children. You have never visited us on our shifts, or walked in our shoes. You don't know a thing about the struggle that brought us to the verge of our dream to have a union. And yet without talking to a single one of us you send your bullying staff to come in and spread terrible lies for no other reason than to destroy what we worked so hard to build.

For three years we have worked with SEIU members, leaders and staff to form our union. We sent letters to hospital officials and mobilized community support for fair organizing rules. SEIU has supported and encouraged us through some very hard times, and helped us stand up for ourselves. We are caregivers--registered nurses and respiratory therapists, dietary and housekeeping staff, lab techs and other employees. SEIU helped us understand how we could do more by speaking with one voice and standing together for our families and our patients. SEIU respected our intelligence and our ability to make our own decisions.

You say you stand for democracy. But then you come in with a goal of destroying our campaign without ever asking us what we think about SEIU and our agreement for fair election ground rules--ground rules we now understand you have made use of many times in California.

You say you stand for justice. But then you deny us our opportunity for a fair vote free of misleading propaganda and scare tactics.

Our efforts to unite for better jobs and health care were not a secret. At any time during those three years you could have come and presented your union, compared yourself to SEIU, and asked us to make a choice. But you didn't. So it is obvious to us that your sole intention was to destroy what we have built. What kind of organization sets out to destroy the efforts of the very people you claim to stand for, and then tries to pretend it's a moral cause?

Here in Ohio, union organizers and representatives don't behave the way yours do. They show respect for hard-working people. We have read all the words about how you try to justify this, but when compared to the needs of our families and the needs of our patients, they show a complete disregard for basic fairness and decency. You have brought harm to thousands of workers and families in Ohio, and you should be ashamed of what you have done.

Signed,

Michaela Silver, RCP

Springfield Regional Medical Center

Springfield, OH

Click here for a full list of signatories.

Michaela Silver, RCP is a Respiratory Care Practitioner at Springfield Regional Medical Center in Springfield, Ohio. For the past three years Michaela has been organizing with nearly 8,000 nurses and other healthcare workers at nine Healthcare Partners Facilities in Ohio to improve their wages, hours, healthcare and other job benefits. But on March 11--just as they were about to vote to unite with SEIU District 1199 and gain a voice on the job--their efforts were squashed by a union-busting onslaught by the California Nurse's Association (CNA.)