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For 26 years, Julie McCall has labored as a unit clerk at Washington Hospital Center, working closely with the hospital’s nursing staff. When not on duty, McCall has moonlighted as a songwriter with the Labor Heritage Foundation, a group that promotes union activities through art and culture. Among McCall’s handiwork are such classics as “Punch It In Is All We Do” (to the tune of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”) and “My Union Stands by Me” (to the tune of “Stand by Me”): “When the boss calls me in /And the ax is about to fall/And the pink slip is all that I can see/I’m not afraid, no I’m not afraid/’Cause I know the union stands by me.” So when members of the District of Columbia Nurses Association (DCNA) began their strike on Sept. 20, McCall refused to cross the picket line and picked up her pen instead. “Hail to the nursesDCNA/Fighting for justice, awesome all the way/Hail to the nurseswe’re standing tall/Though we will bargain, we will never crawl!” she wrote. Designed for the picketing nurses to sing to the tune of “Hail to the Redskins,” the ditty turned out to be McCall’s swan song: On Oct. 13, McCall received a termination letter from the hospital. “I will not work with scab nurses who undermine the strike for nurses standing up for better patient care,” explains McCall. Elissa Silverman
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