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So for those who may or may not have read Mr. Grula’s latest attempt to convince the Pasadena Weekly reader’s that the California Nurses’ Association (CNA) should be given free reign at Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH), by “just let the nurses vote” – what a disingenuous piece of tripe.

He begins by heralding that the LA region of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found “probable cause to believe the HMH has engaged in unfair labor practices against the nurses wanting to form a union”. That might be the case, but let me remind my readers that this is the same regional board of the NLRB that found that the threats made from the offices of the CNA against two Cedars’s nurses that opposed the union weren’t threats at all. However the DC NLRB (and final say on the matter) decided that threats made to one nurses children and another’s nurse’s pets were indeed threats and thus were enough to invalidate the vote – and to this day Cedar nurses remain union-free. In short, just because the regional branch feels there’s probably (i.e. a reasonable belief) cause it doesn’t mean that in the end it will be substantiated.

But what really galls me is this attempt by Grula to somehow equate union representation with the recently released “Leapfrog scores” published in a recent LA Times article — http://graphics.latimes.com/california-hospital-scores/. Granted HMH gets a rank of “C”, but so did 69 other hospitals, including such venerable institutions such as UCLA Medical Center, Loma Linda (which got a D believe it or not) and Stanford Hospital. Grula goes on, in his article to make it appear as though HMH is the only LA County hospital with such a low score – not true! He also goes on to pontificate that Kaiser (a CNA-represented hospital network) has a rank of “A”, which is true, but what he fails to disclose is many other CNA-represented hospitals that scored “C”, “D” and “F” grades– yes “F”.

So, Antelope Valley Hospital is the only LA County area hospital to receive a big fat F and is a CNA-represented hospital! California Hospital Medical Center, Citrus Valley Medical Center Inter-Community, Glendale Memorial Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial, and UCLA Medical Center all receiving a C grade are all CNA-represented hospitals. So while HMH receiving a C-grade might provide fodder for Grula and the CNA to say that hospitals with unionized hospital staff get better grades from Leapfrog is a very weak assumption to make (I think they’re kind of leapfrogging to that assumption). It would appear that Grula is following in the footsteps of the CNA in not allowing the facts to get in his way.

The problem, in my opinion, lies with the CNA-campaign to gather enough valid RN signatures to call for a vote – and it would appear that they might be falling short of this goal. So now the CNA is trying to pressure HMH management into just giving the CNA the “keys to the kingdom” and allow a vote to go forward without showing via signed cards that a majority of HMH RNs want the union. The feedback that I’ve gotten from HMH nurses on the ground is that most have been rebuffing the CNA’s advances. So this will have to make the CNA representatives work all that much harder for the votes – oh boo hoo. The CNA likes to paint nurses that are pro-union as somehow being brave and self-determined all the while painting nurses that oppose the union as somehow misguided, naïve or shills for management. They accuse yours truly of interfering because I’m giving “aid and comfort” to those RNs standing up to the CNA union machine all the while the CNA applauds local politicians, church and community leaders who support the CNA. Their message if you support the CNA you are somehow brave and community minded, and if you don’t you’re weak minded and interfering; their logic boggles the mind.

The CNA tried this same tactic many years ago when they tried to get our state legislators to pass legislation that would bypass a vote entirely and simply allowing gathering enough signed cards to install a union. They testified that nurses were really too weak to “speak up for themselves” thus they needed this card check legislation. Union representatives even went so far as to tearfully testify that if only the nurses at that “Tenet hospital in Redding” had been unionized the RNs would have felt safe to come forward to blow the whistle on all the unnecessary cardiac surgery that was being performed. There was just one problem with that scenario. It was the nurses, themselves, that blew the whistle – the very non-unionized nurses that the union deemed to weak to speak for themselves. Meanwhile they never explained why the union represented nurses at UC Irvine never blew the whistle on the problems with the IVF program.

This is one of my fundamental issues with nursing unions, which is they all too often resort to mud slinging, fact mangling and sometimes out right lies to grow their ranks. Nursing is a profession and should be treated as such. All too often unions in their mad dash to unionize the RN workforce resort to tactics that leave a mark on our time honored profession. I say if they want to convince nurses to unionize do so with the facts, with well supported arguments and leave the bullying and threats out of it. And as I always say “if nurses are too weak and incapable to advocate for themselves (as the CNA purports) how can these same nurses advocate for their patient as they are require by The California Nursing Practice Act.

But back to the “C” grade awarded to HMH and many other hospitals. It’s important to keep in mind that there several different hospital safety “report cards” available. Leapfrog – www.hospitalsafetyscore.org- is but one of many that are recognized and used. You can also see how your local hospital stacks up by using the Joint Commission Quality Check – www.qualitycheck.org; CMS Hospital Compare – www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov; and Consumer Reports Hospital Safety Ratings – www.consumerreports.org/health/doctors-hospitals/doctors-and-hospitals.htm to name a few.

In Grula’s opinion piece “Huntington Hospital is Ill” that ran in the November 6, 2014 edition of the Pasadena Weekly, he attempted to paint Huntington Hospital as some kind of sub-par hospital and it’s administration (calling out its CEO Steve Ralphs) as somehow cruel and uncaring of their nursing staff – all this, in my opinion, at the beck and call of the California Nurses Association (CNA).

Why? You may ask, because the CNA has been trying unsuccessfully, to date, to unionize the 1,100 RN workforce that ply their craft at Huntington Hospital. As expected, the CNA was up to its usual shenanigans, they held a rally where they claimed hundreds of supporters attended lining the length of Pasadena Avenue, when in reality somewhere about 80 – 100 people showed up, of which only a handful were actual Huntington RNs. Their theme for the rally, “restore quality patient care”.  As a RN and Pasadena resident it really irked me that the pro-CNA nurses at Huntington would allow the CNA to spread such a despicable message, because to restore something implies that something, in this case quality patient care, is missing which isn’t the case with Huntington Hospital. However, the CNA isn’t one to let the facts get in their way and neither it appears is Grula or the editors at the Pasadena Weekly.

I make this bold statement, because in Grula’s piece he tries to convince his readers that somehow it makes sense to allow the Huntington nurses to unionize because 60% of California nurses already belong to unions. He bases these numbers on two statistics both provided by, you guessed it, the CNA. The first statistic he provides is that there are 200,000 RNs in California and that 120,000 are in unions. So when you use these figures its easy to see how one might conclude that about 60% of all California RNs are in unions, but there’s one small problem. What, pray tell, might that be? All it takes is a quick telephone call to the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) to learn that there are currently 398,134 actively licensed California RNs with another 16,025 holding an inactive license for a total of 414,159 California RNs. It’s that quick and easy. Not sure you can look it up on line at http://www.rn.ca.gov/about_us/stats.shtml or for the most up to date figures you can call the BRN at (916) 574-7699. So with more accurate figures the 60% of all nurses belonging to unions becomes more like 30% with the majority of California nurses (about 70%) choosing to remain union-free.

Gurla also tried to make a point of Huntington’s CEO Ralphs’ salary, but failed to note how much money the CNA will make yearly off the backs of the RNs in the way of dues if they are successful in unionizing the Huntington RN workforce. Think the number one followed by six zeroes and then some. His entire piece supports solely the goal of the CNA and the Huntington RNs that support the CNA, but fails to mention that the greatest opposition comes from within the very Huntington RN family – from members who don’t want the union to represent them as they feel they don’t need an additional layer between them and management. Of course, if Grula even mentioned that opposition was coming from Huntington nurses, themselves, then the CNA’s and his argument that it’s the “evil” management that’s fighting the CNA — falls to pieces and blows the “we’re poor weak nurses who can’t speak for ourselves so we need the CNA to fight our battles for us” theory out of the water.

So when Grula’s piece was published, wrong statistics and all, I submitted a letter to the editor to both correct the erroneous statistics and to provide my two cents on what’s happening at Huntington, which is that the CNA is facing resistance, not from hospital management but from the very nurses they are attempting to organize. Some of the nurses who didn’t want a union reached out to me and asked for advice and guidance, which I was happy to give them. Something the CNA hates, because they like to portray themselves as the protector of the hard working nurse who is somehow so downtrodden by management that they can’t stand on their on two feet. So when the very nurses they want to represent, fight them and spurn the CNA overtures, the leadership of the CNA becomes practically apoplectic.

After emailing my letter to the editor I followed it up with a phone call to the editor, Kevin, and had a nice chat with him and received a promise that he’d run my letter in the November 20th edition. So when November 20th rolled around I picked a copy of the Pasadena Weekly and found that my letter to the editor hadn’t been printed as promised. I called Kevin and imagine my surprise when he informed me that he gave my letter to Grula so he could “respond”. Why? Because somehow the statistics I provided from the BRN were an “opinion”, or as he so quaintly put it “my contention”. I’d say that the Pasadena Weekly editorial staff has egg on its face for failing to fact check Grula’s stats and now their trying to find a way to save face and to dig themselves out of this fiasco of Grula’s and their making.

So, I say to the Pasadena Weekly do the math, show some journalistic integrity, make the correction, print the letter, and let your readers know that it isn’t the management resisting the CNA, but many of the Huntington nurses themselves.

You can read Grula’s “hit piece” on Huntington Hospital here

Here we go again, the C.N.A. has spent their members’ hard earned money that they take in as dues to produce (CNA Flyer1) a high-gloss hit piece on yours truly. My oh my how I must frighten the C.N.A., this handicapped, little old lady from Pasadena.

So when I saw the piece that they’re passing out at Huntington Memorial Hospital I felt compelled to respond – since as so many nurses have come to learn from past experience, many members of the C.N.A. like to play fast and loose with not just the rules, but with the truth as well.

First – IStandWithHuntington (ISWH) are the Huntington Memorial Hospital nurses that feel that they don’t need the C.N.A. to represent them. The IStandWithHuntington blog is an alternative voice to the C.N.A. message/propaganda. Nurses whose opinions differ from those backed by the C.N.A. have the right to speak their mind and get their message out and they have chosen to do so – even though it means fending often scurrilous attacks from the C.N.A. “war machine”. They express their opinions, viewpoints and so forth on their blog.

Second – Did I help the ISWH nurses – darn tooting. I contributed to their cause by securing the IStandWithHuntington domain name and offered it to them for their use. They run and have full control over their blog. This isn’t illegal, the ISWH nurses have the right to freedom of speech, just as the C.N.A. members have and for the record Huntington Memorial Hospital hasn’t spent a dime in securing, purchasing or hosting this blog.

Third – The C.N.A. really does need to go back to school if they think I’m a professional union buster. Professional is defined as – a person engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime. I’m not paid to help nurses who want to get their union-free message out. Nurses call, write and email me when they want advice on how to get their message out, on how they can even the playing field and what not. I listen to them and if I think I can help I do what I can do, there’s a whole network of us who believe that nurses can effectively advocate for themselves, without union representation.

Fourth – They’re great about listing my administrative positions that I’ve held over the years, but conveniently leave out that I’m a RN and that I’ve spent more years at the beside as first a Pediatric nurse and then a PICU/NICU nurse than I have in administration. But then again if they did that they might actually provide folks with the impression that I’m a nurse and not some boogey man “union buster”, because nurse = good and union buster = evil, don’t you know.

Fifth – It’s no secret that I don’t support the RN-to-patient ratio, because I support the far superior patient acuity system. Title 22 and Joint Commission mandates an acuity-based system because nurses aren’t workers on an assembly line and patients aren’t widgets. I believe that nurses give the best care when patients are assessed based on the complexity of their illness, care needs and so forth and then matched to the nurse that has the skills, education and training to best meet those care needs – after all that’s why I became a nurse. And I think that’s why most of you became nurses, as well.

Ask yourselves this why does the C.N.A. feel the need to play so fast and loose with the truth, why do they resort to innuendoes, and cast aspersions? This is the union that says they want to represent you and yet they appear to show utter contempt of your fellow co-workers who chose to exercise their to freedom of speech and simply put their message out as well. The ISWH nurses have spent their hard earned money on their effort and whether you agree or not about joining or not joining a union the ISWH nurses are deserving of some modicum of respect. I think their blog has strived to keep their tone civil and information fact based. So just to be clear I’m not about union busting, as the C.N.A. likes to suggest, but I’m am about making sure that these nurses who want to have their message heard get the opportunity to be heard.

The C.N.A. loves the scorched earth technique in dealing with those who disagree with or oppose their viewpoint; do you? Do you want to be associated with a group that feels entitled to denigrate others in our profession because we don’t chose to follow their rhetoric? As nurses we are charged with advocating for our patients, so how can we be expected to advocate for our patients if we can’t even advocate for ourselves? I’m proud to be a RN. You’re welcome to call, write or email me.

Hubris

A short while ago I was invited by some nurses from Houston, Texas to pay them a visit. Since my daughters and I had been discussing taking a short vacation for some time the invitation provided us with an opportunity to take a road trip to Texas. I let the nurses in Houston know that I’d be happy to pay them a visit and chat with them about their experiences with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. Which is why after just a few days in Houston, my daughters and I found us in Austin having lunch at the Sheraton Hotel and under the watchful eye of C.N.A./N.N.O.C. officials. We had personal business to attend to in Austin, and since the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. has planned a strategy session with HCA nurses to discuss “unionizing” I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for me to observe them in action, so to speak.

As I walked down the hallway between the conference rooms and the restaurant where my daughters waited for me, a C.NA. representative recognized me and quickly left the meeting room so he could follow me. And follow me he did, stopping short of the restaurant entrance where he then stood for 10 – 15 minutes, in plain sight, observing us as we ordered our meal and while he busily spoke to someone on his cell or text messaged. A little while later he motioned for someone to join him and appear to direct him to continue the vigil while he went back upstairs. After finishing our lunch we made plans to complete our errand and found it most amusing to see that we were still being “watched”; oh to have such power.

Which brings me to my point of hubris. Why the officials of the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. would think that I would plan to disrupt their activities or meetings is interesting – but of course they would think this is how people behave since they think nothing of disrupting a meeting, stalking or harassing those they perceive as “threats” or even raiding other unions – so of course they would believe this behavior to be the norm and thus everyone else would exhibit the same deplorable behavior. Which is why they made a point of observing and stalking my daughters and I while we were having our lunch and then made sure we were “observed” during our entire stay at the hotel. If they had only come up and introduced themselves perhaps they would have learned my intent and thus not wasted their time on looking the fool.

Nonetheless when I shared this experience with my fellow nurses from Texas and California everyone had a good laugh at the actions of the C.N.A. and commented on how this made for a memorable experience for this Texas road-trip. Of course one would think that the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. exercise in hubris would end there, but have no fear the day after my return I received an email from an N.N.O.C. nurse from Tennessee. Nurse Chapman chose to send me an email regarding a very popular article I wrote, “To Unionize or Not to Unionize, that is the Question?” Apparently he was under the impression that he was my editor or significant other because he attempted to “deconstruct” my article throwing around such words as nurses need strong union representation (just see what such strong unionization has wrought the nurses of Great Britain, Australia and Canada), research and studies have shown. . . without providing a single citation for his conclusions, and my favorite “I request that you change the title of your article. . ”. Of course my response to him was NO, I would not change the title of my article, as I like it very much the way it is now. I also reminded him that this article, as all my articles and blog postings reflect my opinion and experience and thus not subject to his approval. Of course he chose to ignore the underpinnings of all my articles which that my readers should always do their due diligence, which by the tone and context of his letter I think he preferred that nurses just remain as sheep and that they should follow his piped piper. “N.N.O.C.”.

Oh the hubris of the C.N.A. and their operatives to think that they can intimidate nurses so easily, and me in particular.