President’s Message – September 2014
I’m happy to say that after 34 years we’ve still got it. That’s how long since UNAC/UHCP had to strike, until Parkview RNs struck over Independence Day weekend. It was tremendously successful, as measured by the turnout of hundreds of Parkview RNs, UNAC/UHCP members and supporters in the blistering 100 degree heat. Seven years ago the courageous nurses at Parkview reached out to UNAC/UHCP to form their union. This fight is similar to that one. PRNA members need a voice in how care is delivered, and they need to be treated with dignity and respect. As a Union, we will continue to stand with them, march with them and fight for them whenever and wherever needed, until they win what they deserve.
St. Francis Medical Center also has a prominent place in UNAC/UHCP history. We have 25 years of collective bargaining success there, following our 1986 victory in the courts, which culminated a decade-long legal fight and finally allowed the St. Francis RNs to join us. Over the years we achieved a decent relationship with the Daughters of Charity, owners of the non-profit chain that includes St. Francis. So I was disappointed when the Daughters announced they were getting out of health care and selling. We have a strong successorship clause to ensure that any new buyer will honor the SFRNA contract. But we’re still concerned particularly about sale to a for-profit entity, so we’re working with other unions to try to find the right buyer who will meet the needs of the patients, RNs and the community.
Both of these situations, at Parkview and St. Francis, remind us of why we need unions. Despite too many popular myths, unions serve the greater good for our communities. Unions protect workers who stick their necks out to ensure that their employers are doing what’s right for the public, in our case our patients, despite the pressures of the bottom line. We serve as an absolutely necessary counter-pressure, pushing for people to matter more than profit. That’s why we must always stand in solidarity not just with our own members, but with the entire labor movement.
Ken Deitz, RN