President’s Message – March 2014
A lot of our union work is cyclical, coming around predictably with the expiration and renegotiation of our contracts, or regular affiliate officer elections. Sometimes, though, when a particular part of the cycle comes around it presents new and unusual challenges.
For instance, our RNs at St. Francis Medical Center are due to negotiate a new contract this year. At the same time, they're facing the potential sale of their hospital. The Daughters of Charity, who own St. Francis, are planning to get out of the health care business by selling all five of their hospitals, two in Southern California and three up north. SFRNA fought hard three years ago to protect their pension and win strong safe staffing language. With the looming sale of the hospital, we'll need to make sure the nurses are protected, along with their retirement, wages and benefits. Fortunately, the St. Francis RNs have strong successor language in their contract, which means that any new entity who buys the hospital has to take over and honor the existing contract with SFRNA.
There's nothing strictly new about affiliate officer elections, except that over the last few months as almost every affiliate held theirs, UNAC/UHCP Secretary Charmaine Morales spearheaded a massive transition making numerous steps in the process more easily accessible to all members online, such as nomination forms and candidate biographies. Many of the elections saw multiple candidates for many of the offices, a sign of real vitality for our union. Now we have a healthy mix of returning, experienced officers along with enthusiastic first-timers. To help new and returning officers fully inhabit their roles, we're going to hold officer training this year in addition to the Annual Affiliate Officers Conference (AAOC). We must do everything we can as a union to build strong affiliates with a thoroughly engaged membership, so we can take on the challenge of changing trends in health care delivery with continued implementation of health care reform.
Ken Deitz, RN