I woke up and my stomach was in knots. I was better off than Ms. DudeRN, who was in the bathroom with morning sickness. I took the day off so I could be there for the count. We had to decide who was going to work and who was going to take off. Both are important roles. If you go in to work, then you can help make sure everyone goes and votes and report out to the organizers, who is at work and who is missing. If you take the day off, then you have a choice of jobs. You can make phone calls to turn people out to vote, you can go to nurse’s homes to remind them to vote or, if you are really lucky, you can stand in the parking lot for hours. Ms. DudeRN also took the day off. So before I went off for that last day of union-making, we had a nice breakfast and coffee. It was hard to sit still and enjoy breakfast but I think it really helped the rest of the day to have a moment of breathing. So much of the rest of the day would involve the holding of breath it is probably this very moment that allowed me to maintain consciousness.
It also gave me a chance to reflect on what a wonderful wife I have. She has supported me through all of this, even when she was nervous about our future, even when I was nervous about our future. She helped me figure out how to express myself and how to keep my cool. If I deserve any credit for this crazy thing, then it is all for her. She made it possible.
I started out in the parking lot. I didn’t think it was a good assignment but you get see the people as they come in and you have the chance to get the last word. If someone has come in to vote with questions on their mind, you can see it on their face and get them talking. If they start talking, you have a good chance to answer their questions right before they go in to vote. UnionGuy says that if a person goes into the booth undecided there is a much higher likelihood they will vote no. He says they started counting the Undecideds as No votes a week ago.
As the day ran on, UnionLady showed up and dropped off a relief nurse and I went out to knock on some doors.
These were different kinds of visits, all to people we knew were Yes votes. We were showing up to offer to watch their kids while they go vote, I even offered to help one nurse finish vacuuming! Mostly it was about making sure they understand how important it is to go vote. UnionLady says, “These things are decided by ONE vote ALL.THE.TIME!”
As the sun is setting, we get back to the parking lot where a crowd has formed. Everyone is nervous but there is a real sense we are in it together. I feel like, no matter what, we are a union now. The election is being held in one of the hospital’s conference rooms and being run by government agents who look very official and are kind of stern. When it’s time, we all march in together and find a seat. The agent tells us that almost 95% of the nurses voted! They empty all of the ballots onto the table and slowly, slowly they begin unfolding them and setting them into piles.
They count out and hold up each and every ballot, “Yes, Yes, No, No, No, Yes….” It seems like forever and the runs of Yes votes make my heart flutter and the runs of No votes make my stomach turn over.
I have lost all track of time and numbers, but I can see people at the front have started smiling. The Government agent stops counting.The organizers are looking at us giving us the all clear sign, when they call out the tallies and announce the Yes votes have it! A giant cheer goes up!
The board agent throws us out of the room and we march back out to the parking lot. The press is there and there are camera flashes and people giving statements. I call Ms. DudeRN and say, “We did it!”
After the crowd has cleared a bit, we move farther into the parking lot and some nurse reaches into her trunk and breaks out a bottle of champagne! People are so happy. I just can’t believe it. It’s over, we won. Things will never be the same. We go out for a drink, but all I can think of is my bed. I’m so glad it is over. Now I can go back to just being that dude RN…