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TEEN VOGUE: St. Vincent’s Nurses Are on Strike — This Is What It’s Like for Their Kids

10.25.2021

As the St. Vincent nurses approach eight full months on strike, and as workers across the nation wage work stoppages for safer working conditions and better pay, Teen Vogue has published an amazing profile of what a strike is like for teens of striking workers.
 
We applaud the publication for this important and insightful look at the strike, and encourage all who follow the strike and the labor movement to share this widely.
 
 

St. Vincent’s Nurses Are on Strike — This Is What It’s Like for Their Kids

“There’s a fair amount of courage and honor that goes into making that decision.”

During Teen Vogue’s interview with Ally, her mom chimes in to share that the MNA has been “really supportive” of families on strike, holding food drives and collecting backpacks and school supplies. Going on strike might seem like a straightforward, virtuous decision, but the toll on families and individuals — and the kind of discipline and commitment it takes to maintain a strike — is impossible to boil down to a tweet or slogan.

Lorelai’s mom, who’d been working at St. Vincent since before Lorelai was born, has been given a leadership role as picket captain for the duration of the strike. Though she’s proud to have the position, Lorelai says, it hasn’t been easy. “A lot of pressure falls on her to kind of have everyone coordinated and answer questions and always know what's going on at that very moment, because things can change so quickly,” Lorelai explains. 

“It was kind of hard just seeing her at the kitchen table at night breaking down because of things that are happening," Lorelai continues, "and me not being able to do much except hug her and tell her how proud I am of her. I don't know what it's like from her experience. I know what it's like from a kid's experience, but I don't know what it's like actually being the one on strike.”

The demarcation is significant. Even now, as people promote strike authorizations online and encourage a range of options to support striking workers, it’s difficult to understand the day-to-day effort that goes into coordinating and sustaining a labor strike. The misconception that workers go on strike for selfish reasons is a sore spot for Lorelai, who has seen her mom maintain her resolve through tired days and nights of picketing, meetings, and more for eight months straight.

“The people that are on these strikes — and not just the St. Vincent strike, strikes in general — they truly are fighting for what they believe in. It is so important for me to get that message across because of the fact that I see people saying that they just want to collect unemployment or sit around and do nothing all day — like, that’s so frustrating because it is totally the opposite of what is going on,” Lorelai explains. “Whether you see it or not, they're always planning. They're always working together. They're always talking to people, discussing things. No matter what you're fighting for, no matter what job you're striking at, it's literally a constant thing.”

Despite the stress, there has been one especially bright side: The strike has allowed Lorelai and her mom to spend more time together and build an even tighter bond. Nurses work on a very different schedule now, signing up for three-hour picketing shifts, multiple times per week. Lorelai says 6 a.m. Saturday picketing shifts are “pushing it” for her, but she says walking the line with her mom has been an eye-opening experience.

“Ever since I was little, she's always told me you have to stand up for what you believe in," Lorelai recalls. "That's why, when I partake in protests, I always have her in the back of my mind. Seeing her take her own advice, in a way, has been so cool.”

“From seeing firsthand, I know how overwhelming it can be for her," Lorelai adds. "But through it all she [has] kept going and kept supporting her coworkers.”

Karen and Lorelai Soper

Lorelai Soper (left) and her mother, Karen Soper

For more than eight months, the picket line has been manned every single day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., according to Ally’s mom. In addition to Lorelai, Ally and the Mobley brothers have all visited the picket line to march with the nurses. 

“When we walk out along the line, me and my mom hang out at the entrance that the replacement travel nurses go in," says Joshua, 16. “We walk around there for a couple hours and we're able to talk with a lot of the other nurses.” Joshua says that it’s common for nurses to picket with their kids, push strollers on the line, and even bring pets along. “It’s a nice atmosphere. I really enjoy being able to go out and support them. It's unfortunate that it has to happen, but it is kind of fun to go out and picket.”

“We even got to see Fourth of July fireworks while we were up picketing together one day,” Jacob recalls. “I was really happy I was there for that.”

“We're both going through a very unique situation because, to me, when I think strike, I'm thinking the steel strikes in the 1900s,” Jacob says, reflecting on what it’s like to walk a picket line or have a parent on strike as a teenager in 2021. “This gave me a much greater sense of realism [about] the modernity of strikes and labor unions and how important all that is. There's a lot of moral fiber that goes into that and to stand with everyone and not cross the line. It made me believe in people again — believe in what they can do together, even against corporate America.”

Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: #Striketober Continue

 

 

 

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