Fighting for Accountability, Transparency, Autonomy, Democracy.

It's time for SHIFT CHANGE!

Many of You Don’t Know Me

Many of You Don’t Know Me

By Kemika, RN

(A statement from a rank & file Cook County nurse)

I work at Stroger. In the NICU. At night. We don’t get involved much in hospital politics. Participating in Shift Change has confirmed several things that my colleagues and I have long suspected, something that has  been whispered because things just seem to get worse and worse. We at Stroger have been targeted for ELIMINATION. Our union has allowed our hospital to dwindle our numbers down to weaken our voices. They have been lax in enforcing our CBA. Where are the nurses our hospital promised to hire? They silence those who have something to say. They hand pick those who they want to participate in their “democracy.” Despite this I have met several proud union nurses these past few weeks who give me hope, who work hard behind the scenes to make things better for all us. I believe our union can be better, stronger, by engaging all of its members. Let us all be proud.

Yesterday at an NNU Leadership Conference I bore witness to an act of pure courage. I watched Shift Changer, John (our Chicago Candidate for the Council of Presidents) stand firmly and asserted his right to be PRESENT and to be HEARD. After he was told that he was not welcome and despite threats of prosecution for trespassing. Yesterday our union leaders enjoyed free breakfast and sat in a warm conference room listening to motivational speeches in their nice suits. All paid for with our union dues no doubt. While we stood outside in the frigid Chicago spring giving people advice on where to park because the hotel garage was “FULL,” we saw something miraculous happen. Because people were stopping to talk to us outside, there was suddenly parking available in the hotel garage!! Union staffers were escorting people to the garage and ushering them into the building as though we posed some sort of threat. The three of us and a box of donuts.

My point being that even though they want to ignore us, they can’t. Everything we do forces them to act, to do better. Even if that just means providing safe parking in Chicago for those who have traveled far and wide to attend the conference. Every little thing counts. But because there aren’t that many of us left, County nurses, we have to be twice as loud to be heard. We have to work extra hard to make things change! We are short staffed! We all know what that means. No breaks. No lunches. No sleep. No time for our families. No time for our friends.

Thank you Shift Change for representing us. I know there is a slate of four incredible, brave  nurses but only John is here in Chicago. Call it disobedience if you want. I call it courage. We do courageous things everyday as nurses for our patients. We don’t even realize it. We can’t even remember them because it’s just a normal everyday thing.

During the pandemic we were heroes. Now we’re just a nuisance. Just take what we think you deserve and be quiet. They say we are the most trusted profession. Can we also be allowed to trust? To trust that our union will do right by us?

What happens to us will affect nursing everywhere. Union nurses. Non-union nurses. We cannot allow the bosses to de-value and demoralize us as a profession, to pit us against one another, staff nurses versus agency, with this wage disparity! We need hospital based training programs! We need nurse internships that promote retention! We need comparable wages! This mercenary wave of high paying temp jobs cannot be sustained. When the money runs out we will be left with nurses with no solid foundations, poor skill sets and NO SUPPORT.

Are these the nurses we want to care for us? For our loved ones? Nurses who are afraid to advocate for patients? For themselves? Because they don’t want to lose their jobs? Feels like we are going backwards.

There’s a union election coming up. Don’t we, the voters, have a RIGHT and a DUTY to hear BOTH sides? For once there are TWO sides. They make it seem like we are being invaded by a hostile foreign entity. We are all part of and pay dues to the same union. We want to make our union stronger by promoting more education and communication among our members. They have gotten used to telling us these are the people “We” elected. Look at the list of candidates. How many CHOICES do you see? Besides the Council there is only one other contested race.

What happens at Stroger will be a blueprint on how to de-unionize nurses everywhere. Don’t misunderstand. There will still be a union. There’s too much money involved. But it won’t be us. It won’t be a democracy.

But will there be a Cook County Hospital? It’s called Stroger now. But in my heart it will always be COOK COUNTY HOSPITAL.

I am a proud County nurse.

Established in the 1800’s.

The first medical internship program.

The first blood bank.

The first trauma unit.

The first burn unit.

A world renowned teaching institution.

It’s all over the walls. Literally. Walk down the hall. You can read all about it.

Our leaders have let it fall into shambles.

Shame on them.

Say it loud! Say it proud!


It’s now or never!

Make your voices heard!