Six Post-Election Thoughts (Q1 edition)

MNA executive director Julie Pinkham, Yes on 1 organizer Jared Hicks, and MNA president Donna Kelly-Williams MNA executive director Julie Pinkham, Yes on 1 organizer Jared Hicks, and MNA president Donna Kelly-Williams

1) To the nurses of the Massachusetts Nurses Association and non-union nurses across the Commonwealth who have endured so much and worked so hard to finally achieve safe staffing—including RNs who traveled here to help from around the country—I deeply thank you for your efforts and the opportunity to fight alongside you. I stand in awe of your fierce commitment and your nobility of spirit. There is no wonder you belong to the most trusted profession in America. It’s been an honor and a privilege. We are on the right side of history and we will win.

2) To each and every person who voted Yes on 1, you have my heartfelt gratitude. You chose patients over profit, people before money, and right against wrong. Nurses have advocated for common-sense quality conditions in healthcare for decades now and they appreciate your support. I also want to thank all of our allies in the progressive community—from faith, labor, and every group and individual devoted to justice.

3) The $28 billion hospital industry ran a Trumpian campaign of utter ugliness filled with fear and lies fueled by more than $27 million. It was a full-on, statewide union-busting campaign the likes of which even surpassed the No on 2 fight in 2016 to save public education from privatization. They resorted to shameful tactics to confuse and scare people. I am proud we ran a clean, honest campaign that didn’t insult the intelligence of voters and respected the truth. We must get big money out of politics.

4) If you voted No on 1, kindly delete me on Facebook (unless you acknowledge the mistake). I don’t have room or patience for class traitors, as you just sided with hospital executives and managers over workers and yourselves. Seriously, no hard feelings, I’m at the 5k friend limit. I’m cultivating a space of folks dedicated to collective struggle and liberation, for we only ensure safety through solidarity. But you know what? Those same nurses will still do their best to be at your or your loved one’s bedside when the time comes.

5) I want to congratulate our field team that for over a year and a half put in the sweat to bring this home. We dug deep and sacrificed for the cause and each other. I’ve learned and grown as an organizer and am better for having shared in this experience with such an esteemed group. We are deeply saddened and disappointed we didn’t come up with an electoral victory, but we helped activate members and educated a lot of people about a critically important issue. I hope we can take on the bosses together again in the future.

6) When I first met Julie Pinkham, we were Bernie delegates at the Philadelphia convention. She was coming hot off a huge negotiation battle at Brigham & Women’s with a new contract. I had never encountered someone with that much power and intelligence with such a down-to-earth attitude, grace and humor. She was warm and witty, treating me as if we were old pals. We stayed in touch as time passed, often running into each other at actions, and one day she mentioned MNA would be hiring organizers for their ballot campaign and urged me to apply. I felt humbled and complimented as well as nervous and unsure. Was I ready for the responsibility? Had I oversold myself? Did I have the skill & ability? If I got the job, I didn’t want to let her down. I went for it and was fortunate to join the team. Over the course of my time I got to see her leadership up close and the sheer confidence she inspired in all of us. I’d follow her anywhere. Julie, you have become a dear friend and I hope I made you proud. Last night, after our singular president, Donna Kelly-Williams, gave her remarks in the MNA office lobby, I made a beeline to Julie who was standing alone across the hall after coming in from the rain (first on the field, last off) and hugged her. I told her I was sorry. She said, “It’s okay. You can’t win if you’re afraid to lose.” That’s why I love her, the staff and the members of MNA—for believing, whether it’s in Safe Patient Limits, a fair contract, Medicare-For-All, a long-shot presidential candidate, or me. Thanks for giving this kid from Dorchester a chance to be part of it.

Jared Hicks was a Yes on 1 organizer and is a board member of Massachusetts Peace Action