It was dark, grey and rather chilly. We hauled the signs out of the back seat of my car and made our way to the corner of the front entrance of Central Michigan Community Hospital in Mt. Pleasant. Nurses began to emerge from cars as we set up. Coffee, water and donuts were laid out. As the clock ticked 6:30 am, nurses and supporters grabbed signs saying “CMCH Unfair to Nurses” and “Nurses Care for You” and began to walk around the hospital, covering three different entrances. And so, the informational picket at Central Michigan Community Hospital began.
It wasn’t long before the media arrived. We talked with reporters from the Morning Sun and Central Michigan Life, and Michigan Public Radio over a cell phone. As daylight brightened the skies, cars passing by the picketers began to honk, which brought on cheers and waving. People driving by rolled down their windows and yelled, “I support you!” which delighted the nurses no end.
But it wasn’t just nurses on the picket line. The Central Michigan Labor Council had passed the word and several members came and picketed with the nurses. Husbands and friends walked, a young daughter joined the crowd and one son picketed for his mother, proudly displaying a sign that read, “I am here to support my mom who is an RN and taking care of patients today!”
As the nurses walked, word spread quickly that mysteriously, many of the working nurses had been mandated to stay past their shift, thus eliminating their ability to join the picket line. Coincidence? The hospital was very busy with patients but the timing did seem a little interesting.
For the CMCH nurses, it was a step in faith that alerting the community regarding their unsettled contract and their ability to have a say in their practice will restart the contract negotiations again. Based on today’s response, the community is behind the nurses. Hopefully, CMCH will be as well, and soon!