Nurse Fired for Standing Up for Patient Care Fights for Her Job Back

January 2008

Frustrated by inconsistent policies, haphazard staffing levels and no real voice in improving patient care, Deirdre Kirkwood and her fellow nurses at Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside decided to come together and form a union. Deirdre - a highly competent and well respected NICU nurse - is a key workplace leader encouraging her co-workers to support the union campaign.

When hospital administrators saw employees coming together, they began to harass and intimidate the nurses. Their first act: firing Deirdre with no notice. Late on the afternoon of Friday, January 4, the head of human resources called Deirdre into a meeting, told her administration was cleaning house, and fired the seven-year nurse for poor morale. A security guard brought Deirdre her purse and she was told to leave and not come back.

"I am going to fight for my job back," Deirdre says. She is encouraging her co-workers not to give up on a voice. "Please choose courage over fear," she implores them. "The most important thing you can do now is learn more about what it means to form a union, sign a union card and vote 'yes' once the election occurs."

Because Deirdre has never received anything but stellar performance reviews, she can only conclude she was fired for being a union activist. As the nurse who organized holiday gift giving to her department's managers, Deirdre can hardly be accused of "poor morale."

The hospital has not let up on its effort to try to silence the nurses. On the evening of Monday, January 7, Deirdre and her family and friends went to Parkview to hand out fliers telling her story to fellow employees. Three police cars showed up to expel them from outside the hospital. When the nurses held a private organizing meeting at a church, three administrators showed up and tried to muscle their way in (they were eventually persuaded to leave).

Deirdre's co-workers are rallying around her, signing a petition in her support and re-doubling their efforts to collect union cards. And all UNAC/UHCP members are emailing to show our support as well. "I love Parkview, and all we want to do is make it better," says Deirdre.

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