NEW YORK NURSE: March 2010
How can we make our union members strong and think beyond only filing grievances?
Every bargaining unit has members who are willing to get involved – we need to reach out to them to encourage participation at any level. Members need to feel comfortable with their union involvement. As union members, we should continually examine how every action we take can increase participation with our local bargaining unit members.
Filing a grievance is only one mechanism by which we address issues, strengthen our organization, and build local bargaining unit leadership. The collective bargaining agreement affords opportunities for involvement in committees such as: labor/management, nursing practice, membership, grievance, health & safety, and internal organizing.
We can choose issues to organize around that may or may not involve the filing of a grievance. How do we do it? We can assess which issues affect our members. Polling members can determine how many are motivated to get involved with an issue and whether we, as the union, are able to prevail. We know there is strength in numbers.
Distributing union information to a member’s workplace, or rallying around a member who has experienced violence in the workplace, will attract a member to invest in union responsibility. This type of involvement encourages a future commitment of activities such as full attendance at membership meetings, participation in rallies, telephone and email trees, petitions, button campaigns, and community involvement.
Despite all of our society’s advances in technology, the best method of encouraging participation remains a tried-and-true one: speaking with a colleague, one-to-one.
The NYSNA EGW Program receives many inquiries each month from members who have problems in their workplaces. If you have a question about labor relations at your facility, contact your NYSNA nursing representative. If you have a question you think should be featured in this column, send it to: RNs at Work, NYSNA, 120 Wall Street, 23rd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10005.