Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Outspoken worker Don Fugate tell it like it is, knocks the Zombies out cold

Dear friends and co-workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital,

My name is Don Fugate. I have worked with and amongst you all for the past seventeen and a half years at SRMH. The past six of those years I have been actively involved in organizing a union for the service and technical staff here at SRMH. I began this journey because I sincerely believed, and still do today, that by all of us coming together and speaking with one voice that we could make a positive difference at SRMH. A difference for ourselves, for each other, for our patients, and for our community whom we serve everyday. That, by coming together, we could revitalize our hospital with the true spirit of the four core values that the founding members of the Sisters of St.Joseph originally committed too. The values of Dignity, Excellence, Justice, and Service are noble and worthy values and ones that we do our best to practice daily during our varies duties throughout the hospital. Unfortunately, over the years I have been there it seems as if the corporatization of the healthcare industry has made it more and more difficult to meet these worthy values. Cuts in staffing, pay, benefits, and a lack of respect for our ideas and concerns from Management has, much like how a river can form a canyon or chasm given enough time, eroded our commitment to these values. Frustration, anger, stress, and anxiety seems to have replaced our beloved values. But by joining together, I know we can change this trend! We can revitalize our workplace, and in the process our selves and our dedication to the values that have made Memorial Hospital the leading Healthcare provider in Sonoma County.

That's why I decided to become an employee organizer and joined many of our fellow co-workers on the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Organizing Committee. A committee founded by Memorial employees to create a union here at SRMH. When we began this process we decided to organize with SEIU Local 250. Local 250 would later merge with Local 399 and become SEIU-UHW West. We organized with SEIU for five years, until last January  when the leadership of the International placed UHW under trusteeship. After trusteeship we heard nothing from them about our organizing effort here at SRMH. Some time passed without word. During this time we were contacted by organizers from the newly created union, NUHW. These were the organizers for SEIU who quit in disgust because of the trusteeship. They told us their side of what happened at SEIU-UHW and the trusteeship. And they then offered to continue organizing with us if we chose to do so. We decided, in fairness, to contact SEIU-UHW to hear their side and perspective, and to ask if they were still interested in organizing with us. We placed several calls over the course of three to four weeks asking someone, anyone, with SEIU to return our calls. All we received was silence. It became apparent to many of us that organizing the workers at SRMH simply was no longer a priority for SEIU-UHW. In fact we just recently learned from Mr. Fred Ross Jr., who was a leader within SEIU at the time, that the decision to pull support from the campaign at SRMH had been made by the leadership of SEIU in August of 2008. Fully six months prior to the trusteeship which didn't happen until January of 2009! So we came together as a committee and discussed our options. They were: 1.) Continue to wait for a reply from SEIU, 2.) accept NUHW's offer to organize with them, or 3.) Quit altogether and walk away from a five year effort. After much deliberation, and the realization that we had been abandoned by SEIU, we voted unanimously to accept NUHW's offer. We knew them, they had the experience and dedication to create and forge this new union into a great organization that would be dedicated to the working men and women who made up its membership. So powerful a vision it is that the organizers are volunteers. These experienced and well educated people could have simply gone out and gotten jobs somewhere else. But they believe so strongly in the visionary mission of NUHW, to bring justice to the workplace and to the workers, that they have volunteered their time and own resources to help us organize. It has truly been inspiring for me to be a witness to their hard work, and dedication to this cause. Truly, these people embody the values of Dignity, Excellence, Justice, and Service. That is why I'm proud to say that on December 17th and 18th, I'm voting for NUHW! Join me in voting NUHW, and let's be the leaders that will reshape and revitalize our hospital, ourselves, and our commitment to our core values.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Don Fugate

Environmental Services Rep.


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