NEW YORK NURSE: June/July 2012
By Marva Wade, RN, President, Delegate Assembly
“Nurses union gets tougher.” That’s what one of the headlines read after our May 17 meeting.
I have been a NYSNA member since 1974. It’s about time.
I’m so happy to say that NYSNA is changing: We’re getting tougher. More united. And it’s all because of nurses like you.
Just look at the NYSNA Benefits Fund. Management at our hospitals has wanted to shift the cost of our healthcare onto our members. In 2011, they got their wish – with a terrible arbitration decision that said we had to start paying for our healthcare.
I rallied with thousands of members in the last contract round. We kept cost-shifting to a minimum in the last round of bargaining. And now we’ve won a new agreement with the trustees on our benefit fund that establishes a new, no-cost option for members’ healthcare.
Or out in the Southern Tier, look at the Chemung County Nursing Facility. Management has brought in an outside consultant who wants to privatize the facility – a violation of our contract, and a threat to the seniors our nurses serve.
It’s a small unit. But nurses there are fighting big. They’ve taken their message to the public -- and already 500 of their neighbors have signed a petition supporting quality, public senior care.
Or look at Shore Medical Center down in Jersey. Management was stalling at the bargaining table. And out of the blue, a fake union showed up promising nurses the moon.
It didn’t work. Shore RNs voted more than three-to-one to stay strong with NYSNA. Now they’re headed back to the bargaining table more united than ever.
Or look at HHC – the largest all-RN bargaining units in New York. Staffing is bad in many of our facilities, and that’s why members held a citywide protest on June 20 (see page 17).
HHC nurses are meeting the challenge head on – on their units and now on the streets. And they’ve launched a campaign to win the good contract they deserve.
The resources of NYSNA are being coordinated to assist HHC nurses – and nurses at all of our facilities – to take on the staffing crisis.
These are just a few examples of members coming together to build a stronger NYSNA. You’ll find more in the pages of this magazine.
Our mass membership meeting on May 17 was the new NYSNA at its best.
It was open – to any NYSNA member who registered. And thousands did.
It was transparent – with members standing to vote so they could be accountable.
It was democratic – more than 2,500 members voted to set a new course for our union.
The challenges that we face are tougher than ever: The attack on our benefits. Anti-union politicians. Out-of-control management. A staffing crisis.
The changes we made on May 17 won’t take away these problems – but now we have the unified voice, focus, and resources to take them on.
We need to be tougher to stand up for strong contracts and to defend our benefits. To save the public sector and to win a good contract at HHC. To gear up for our next private-sector contracts. And to fight like we’ve never fought before to pass a safe nurse-to-patient ratio bill in the state of New York.
In my years as a nurse, I’ve never seen the staffing crisis as bad as it is now.
Staffing is at a critical point in almost all of our facilities — and it’s even worse in the non-union ones.
I’m so glad that at our May 17 meeting, we launched a coordinated, statewide campaign to pass safe staffing legislation.
We can’t win this legislation without you.
If you’ve been involved in bringing change to NYSNA – thank you.
If you’re thinking about getting involved – please fill out the pledge card on the back page of this magazine and get involved.
Every NYSNA member has a role to play – some big, some small. The more of us who get involved, the stronger and more effective we will be.
What happens next is up to members like you.
“I’ve been a nurse at Mt Sinai hospital since 1974. And I’ve been a NYSNA member since then. The road may not have been totally smooth. But we're finally going to reach our goal.”
“Today we know that we will make history for the New York State Nurses Association.”
“In 1988, I became the first president of Delegate Assembly. We started Delegate Assembly so that we could be a powerful voice for the members in collective bargaining.”
“Some of the leaders of the Delegate Assembly are here today and I thank all of you for your service – you have done a wonderful job.”
“As I look around in this room at the sea of NYSNA nurses, I thank and welcome you, and tell you that we are a family.”
“But despite all the very good work, as union members, we always face obstacles. Things that should have been easy were never easy. Everything was always difficult.”
“Insulation meant that our voices were muffled because of our confusing structure. That’s why I’m so proud I’m voting “yes” on all the changes before us today.”
“So today, after we all vote “yes” on these changes, I will not only the be the first president of Delegate Assembly. I will be the last president of Delegate Assembly.”
“The Delegate Assembly will see its functions merge with the Board. We will meet concurrently with the Board as observers and of course give input as needed until the 2012 annual meeting. The priorities of Delegate Assembly, your workplace leaders, will be heard and acted on. Our members’ voices will be heard.”
“I have been in NYSNA for the long haul. And I’m so proud of what we have accomplished in the past 30 years.”