President’s Message – July 2012
Unions just like ours helped build the American Dream—that if we work hard, we should be able to afford a decent home, a good college education for our kids, and a peaceful retirement. But all over the country, in state after state, corporations and rich donors are trying to silence workers so they can annihilate unions and end pensions. Here in California, the attack comes in the form of the Special Exemptions Act, or Proposition 32 on the November ballot, which will severely restrict our ability to spend our own dues money on politics—though corporations already outspend unions by 15 to 1 and will face no new restrictions.
I can't stress this enough: Our very existence as a union is threatened by Prop 32. If corporations and rich donors can silence our voice in politics, they'll soon attack our very right to bargain contracts. They'll come after our good union wages, paid health care and pensions. If the voices of RNs and health care professionals are drowned out by big corporations concerned only with the bottom-line, how long do you think safe staffing ratios will last? How long before patient safety suffers?
Make sure everyone you know understands the deep threat posed by Proposition 32 and votes against it. Just look at all of our recent contract and legislative victories, many of them covered in this issue, to see what could be at stake if we lose our rights and our voice. How will we be able to work to improve patient care and safety if we are not able to participate in the political process?
For instance: Congratulations to the Beverly Hospital RNs, who fought hard for a year to win their contract, which gives them a voice in patient care. Now they're voting on a constitution and nominating officers so they can become a full-fledged affiliate. We welcome them to UNAC/UHCP. At the same time, Chino RNs are engaged in bargaining their own first contract.
Affiliates are in the process of electing delegates to our UNAC/UHCP Convention. It's your chance to participate in the future of how our Union is run. At the recent AFSCME Convention, I was elected an International Vice President of AFSCME—the seat so long held by Kathy Sackman. I am honored to again follow in her footsteps.
Ken Deitz, RN