Deja vu, again | Front Porch | Indy Week
Pin It

Deja vu, again 

As I walked down a curtained hallway on the second floor of Duke Hospital last Saturday night, a familiar cauldron of feelings was bubbling inside--a strong mix of hope and dread. My head was buzzing with memories by the time I'd entered the room where the votes for and against a nurses' union were being counted.

The scene unfolding in front of me was the same as one I'd witnessed almost 10 years earlier, when I was a member of a union organizing drive for reporters at The Pittsburgh Press. The employee observers and management representatives were lined up on two sides of a long table--just as they had been then--watching the labor board officials painstakingly count piles of paper ballots. There was the same tension in the room, the same feeling of heightened reality.

A cell phone went off and everyone jumped. "It's my husband," laughed Marge Dooley, a longtime Duke nurse and union supporter. "He's calling from UNC to tell me that he's heard it's all over and we've won. I told him, 'They haven't even finished counting yet, Jim."

But finally, at around 10:20 p.m., they were finished counting, and the crowd held its breath to hear the results: The nurses' union lost by a vote of 624 to 1062. Within seconds, it seemed, the ballots were being packed up, Duke hospital officials were handing out photocopied statements, and union supporters were heading off to the Hilton for a post-election wake.

Ten years ago, we lost our union election at the newspaper in Pittsburgh. The following year, in a chain of events that none of us could have predicted, our newspaper was sold to the competing daily, which promptly closed it down. As I walked out of the revolving doors at Duke the other night, I was remembering how I felt after that vote, and the changes that came in its wake. Win or lose, being part of a union drive is a rare adventure. And standing up for something you believe in is always worth it in the long run.

That's what I wanted to tell Marge Dooley when I saw her outside the hospital. But when I caught up with her, she'd been buttonholed by one of the managers who was rattling on about the need to work together in the future. "You know this was never about money. This was always about my patients," Marge told the woman. The manager walked away in one direction and we walked off in another, toward the parking garage. "She's not a nurse. She's got a business degree," Marge told me, holding my arm in a comradely way. "What an education all this has been," she mused. "What an experience."

I saw there was nothing I needed to tell her that she didn't already know.

Latest in Front Porch

More by Barbara Solow

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Front Porch

  • One vote

    • Nov 12, 2014
  • Box of one

    Was I paying to be helped or to feel important, a bona fide expert on only myself?
    • Sep 24, 2014
  • The Old South (Hills)

    The Old South (Hills)

    • Sep 17, 2014
  • More »


Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Hocutt never went to Nam. He was in the Navy but washed out …

by Jefflenter on Raleigh bad boy no more (Front Porch)

I see his concern. Yes, it was a well written story and showed his caring side for sure. But not …

by Linda Bates Terrell on Motorcycle men (Front Porch)

Follow-up to my "nervous mom" comment. The last coupe of weeks we have been in many situations with individuals that …

by paulapowers on Governor's School blues (Front Porch)

Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Most Read

  1. Recounting Him Out (Peripheral Visions)
  2. Safe Spaces (Letters to the Editor)
  3. Dot-con (Peripheral Visions)
  4. Smug Revisionism (Letters to the Editor)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation