Our Vision of Things to Come – Jan/Feb’11 Voice
A Series of Firsts
During these past 22 months, UNAC/UHCP and the political department achieved a “series of firsts” in empowering members to protect their own interests and that of their patients through the legislative and political process.
For the first time, we endorsed a slate of candidates for elected office – chosen by a bipartisan committee of UNAC/UHCP members – who would best represent our values and issues in the state legislature. UNAC/UHCP endorsed candidates won in 12 out of 13 races.
For the first time, we had a formal political mail program to educate the membership about the positions of candidates running for office on issues that matter to health care professionals – ranging from union organizing and workers rights to staffing ratios and scope of practice.
In the November Election UNAC /UHCP members participated in record numbers in precinct walking and phone banking to help educate fellow union members about the issues important to UNAC/UHCP members.
This “series of firsts” has increased our members’ influence over the legislative process – helping defeat a piece of legislation that would have required the home address of every registered nurse to be posted on the Internet. UNAC/UHCP also helped pass important legislation that would create new opportunities for students to obtain nursing degrees through the community college system and clarify the scope of practice of nurse practitioners.
Although, UNAC/UHCP has experienced a very impressive series of firsts, only by expanding on what we have accomplished can we be effective political advocates for our profession and patients. We need to elect more public officials who will call upon our members to provide their expertise on the potential impacts of any legislation dealing with health care. We need to continue building our capacity to defeat legislation written by elected officials who think they are protecting the public interest with little understanding of the consequences of their actions. We need to continue to engage our membership in the political and legislative process. Politics is only a means to giving our members a stronger voice in advancing their interests and that of their patients.
Public Affairs Director
The primary goal of the public affairs department is to increase the visibility of UNAC/UHCP. We do this for a number of reasons, the main simply being we want to amplify the voice of our members. In the coming years, traditional mediums such as newspapers, television, and professional journals will continue to play a role, but our focus has shifted to the greater charge of our website and social media presence.
The public affairs department will therefore be spending a great deal of time and energy making our website the centerpiece of our communications about our affiliates. We re-launched the website last year, adding a web page for each affiliate. We have been featuring stories about our members and their contributions at their affiliates, and continue to solicit stories of your remarkable accomplishments to chronicle on the website. We will also be posting news of importance to members, such as updates on negotiations, on the website, so be sure to check your affiliate page frequently at unacuhcp.org. We are a metrics-based team, so we do monitor the statistics and know which affiliate pages receive the most views – currently Kaiser San Diego – and will be shifting our reporting accordingly.
The most important thing we do is to be the voice for Registered Nurses and other health care professionals in the media. In 2011, there will be a concerted effort by the public affairs team to make UNAC/UHCP members’ voices heard in professional journals and in opinion articles in newspapers and blogs. We will need your help to make this a reality. If you’d like to get involved, speak to your staff representative about volunteering to speak to the media. We’ll be training members all year to interact with the media in a productive way.
Finally, as we begin to expand our work in social media, if you haven’t already connected with us on Facebook, please become our fan at Facebook.com/UnitedNursesCA
It is the goal of the organizing department to build member strength by organizing new Registered Nurses and health care professionals into the union. Our union’s ability to continue to ratify strong contracts depends on UNAC/UHCP facilities not being lone islands in oceans of non-union hospitals. Having more hospitals represented by UNAC/UHCP allows us all to set industry standards and improve the lives of our patients and our coworkers. In 2011 and beyond, we will be looking at key markets where our members have contract campaigns and work to increase our union density in those markets.
As many of you know from your own experience, organizing a union at your facility can be a challenging endeavor. Hospital management will often fight long and hard to prevent their employees from having more of a voice in their work lives. And as many of you also know, talking to a union nurse or health care professional at a unionized facility can be key factor in their decision making process as to whether to get involved in an organizing drive. Therefore, in 2011 we will be aggressively launching our MOV (Member Organizing Volunteer) program to help connect union and non-union nurses. RNs talking to RNs and professionals talking to professionals will be the key to our organizing success. The organizing department looks forward to giving all of you the opportunity to help build power within our union and win stronger and better contracts for the years to come.
Director of Representation and Collective Bargaining
I’m excited about the new year and all the opportunities we have to continue and expand our work at UNAC/UHCP on behalf of our members. My focus will be on working with our affiliate leaders and professional staff representatives to strengthen our members’ education and activism in our union.
Over the past couple months in Kaiser, we worked with the 2010 Contract Specialists to develop the 2011 Contract Specialist Program. Nurses and other health care professionals who served as the 2010 Contract Specialists used their skills, knowledge and experiences to help develop our new plan for this year. We will be launching an education program called, TAKE CHARGE, and each month Kaiser members will have the opportunity to learn about relevant, timely key contract provisions that affect our work. Contract Specialists will be leading this effort, as well as continuing to work with the Affiliate Officers and professional staff to resolve workplace issues.
In our non Kaiser facilities, 2011 will be a big year for bargaining. Contracts expire for nearly 6,000 UNAC/UHCP members (Parkview, Bear Valley, St. Francis, and Sharp Memorial). We will work with the affiliate leadership to develop aggressive, comprehensive contract campaigns to ensure that we
continue the advancements we have made in winning strong contracts.
The past three months I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many, but not all of our affiliate officers. I have learned so much from each of you. I know that the challenges we face are small compared to the opportunities we have—if we make the time, have the strength and determination to build and expand opportunities for greater membership involvement — we will continue to be successful and build upon our history of great achievements.