President’s Message – February 2011
For the first time in thirty eight years, our union is without the leadership of Kathy J. Sackman. And while we owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude, I can say with certainty we're all going to be just fine. I know this because Kathy has left everything in good order. Now we must turn to the future.
While many of you know me, I am sure there are a number who do not. To start with, I am a trade unionist. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, in a union family, as my father worked in a steel mill outside of Pittsburgh. Luckily for my family, we left Pittsburgh to move to Fontana where my father continued working in a union job as an Ironworker. I was raised with the values that all union members should embrace: great wages, benefits and the security in knowing you are covered by a contract. Upon my graduation from nursing school, it made perfect sense to go to work at Kaiser. Kaiser had the best wages, benefits and protections under a contract. This was a result of the hard work of Kathy, Sonia Moseley, MaryAnn Miller, and others in negotiating the contract.
UNAC/UHCP has always been a different type of union. We started as nurses representing nurses, and have become health care professionals representing health care professionals. At our core, our purpose is to empower health care professionals and to advocate for our members and patients; to create a high quality work environment; to provide economic and professional advancement; and to improve the quality of healthcare.
As we move forward as a team with my leadership — Barbara Blake, Delima MacDonald, Bill Rouse, Sharon Stillwell, Beverly Schnelle, Jimmy Gomez, Lisa Demidovich, Christy McConville, Rob Penney, Barbara Lewis and myself — we will continue to look out for your interests. In June, the St. Francis contract will be up, and the Sharp contract is up in September. As always, we will fight for the best contract possible, but it means nothing if we don't enforce the language. That is why servicing is so important. We will continue to organize and energize at our existing affiliates, and organize at external facilities where a union voice can improve working conditions and patient care. UNAC/UHCP will continue to be politically and legislatively active so we can head off disastrous bills like SB 1111. Introduced last year, SB 1111 would have posted nurses' home addresses on the Internet and compelled mandatory reporting of any termination for cause or suspension of a nurse. All of this can only be done through the teamwork of the UNAC/UHCP officers, directors, and staff.
Ken Deitz, RN