NEW YORK NURSE: November 2010
Lorraine Seidel, director of NYSNA’s Economic and General Welfare Program, discussed the association’s record of collective bargaining achievements this past decade during the conference’s “Labor Day” program on Oct. 20. Seidel cited the increase in membership due to organizing, an 83 percent success rate in arbitrations, and the groundbreaking contracts that have been negotiated. Seidel also discussed how NYSNA is meeting its commitment to increase member education, focus on workplace safety, and develop leaders. Veronica Richardson, president of the bargaining unit at Maimonides Medical Center received the 2010 Delegate Assembly Award.
“Your job as a nursing leader is to speak up” said Patricia Moccia, former chief executive officer of the National League for Nursing. Moccia encouraged nurses to advocate for their profession and commit to making the world a better place. She encouraged “every nurse to be a nurse, using your own skills. The people of our nation need you to act up as nurses and as leaders. There is no issue facing our nation that is not related to your work as a nurse. Poverty, the economy, education, violence – who can tell people more about these issues than nurses? You must have opinions on these!”
The Delegate Assembly Labor Day Unity Brunch featured a talk by Denise Danna, president of the Louisiana State Nurses Association, on the challenges her hospital faced during Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. She shared how she and her heroic NICU colleagues came up with innovative solutions to maintain care for patients and provide for their evacuation as the flood waters rose, resources dwindled, and help from outside came sporadically. She provides a detailed account of these experiences in a book she co-authored, Nursing in the Storm: Voices from Hurricane Katrina.
The NYSNA Congress of Bargaining Unit Leaders re-elected Susan Casadone from St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers as its president for another two-year term. Virginia Meyers from Southside Hospital was elected vice president to serve the remaining year of the term of John Hiltunen, who stepped down from office after his employer, St. Vincent’s Hospital-Manhattan, closed.
Barbara Crane, president of the National Federation of Nurses (NFN), noted how recent violence against RNs in New York state has raised the consciousness worldwide of the workplace issues nurses face. Discussing the NFN’s work in Washington, D.C., she said that “with healthcare reform we will see an increase in the need for nurses, demand will increase because nurses are essential to healthcare reform.” She also praised the recent Institute of Medicine report on the future of nursing that said nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.
Talk during the day’s open forum centered on violence experienced by nurses on duty. Many bargaining unit representatives said the closing of nearby hospitals caused an increase in emergency visits and admissions at their facilities, which led to a corresponding increase in patient frustration that turned to violence.
Special guests for the annual Delegate Assembly Labor Day Unity Brunch included: Executive Vice President and RN Division Director Norma Amsterdam from 1199/SEIU, United Healthcare Workers; President Barbara Simonetta and Secretary/Treasurer Mary Florio of Connecticut Health Care Associates; Ohio Nurses Association President Paula K. Anderson; Susan M. Cleary, president of District 1199J/NUHHCE; AFSCME New England Area Director Patricia Glynn; United Federation of Nurses Special Representative Renee Setteducato; and DC 37, Local 436 President Judith Royal.