President’s Message – January 2012
It's easy for us to think of “The Union” as something outside, away from our hospitals and apart from our daily work lives. But The Union is literally us, the members, united. The life's blood and breath of our Union is member engagement and action.
I witnessed it over and over again last year: at Parkview, Garden Grove, St. Francis and Sharp, management couldn't make a move in contract negotiations without members watching and taking action. The strength of our Union, members united, wore them down and we won each of those fights.
A few weeks ago I stood on a cold wet sidewalk in Montebello holding a candle with the RNs of Beverly Hospital and their community and elected supporters. Marlene Castanon pledged support from 700 St. Francis RNs, only to have Teresa Mulroy up the ante with the unity of 12,000 Kaiser members. For Beverly's union-busting lawyer that fight is just a fat paycheck, and bragging rights if he beats us. But for Beverly RNs, it's their lives, their families; the lives and well-being of their patients. That was Union on that sidewalk. That's how we'll outlast that lawyer and win.
We're going to bring that power of Union to the Kaiser Permanente negotiations in a new way this year. We're inviting every UNAC/UHCP Kaiser member to come and witness negotiations. I've seen it: with hundreds, even thousands, of RNs and health care professionals sitting across from management at the bargaining table, watching their every move and listening to their every word, what they do and say is different. The whole dynamic in the room shifts in our direction.
We have the one power management can never have: tens of thousands of us, united in commitment to our patients, to each other, to our families and ourselves. We have Union.
You'll be able to sign up to attend online in January, on our new contract campaign website. The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions is 95,000 strong. Let's lead the Coalition with the largest Union presence there! Sign up later this month, and I'll see you at the Bargaining Table.
Ken Deitz, RN