President’s Message – November 2014
Solidarity is the heart of Union. Solidarity is the source of our power. It’s how we form our unions, then win and enforce our contracts. It’s how we won staffing ratios and enforce them in our hospitals. Our union-wide solidarity helped Parkview RNs defeat their CEO and win their first wage grid. That same solidarity will be needed to support St. Francis RNs, whose hospital just accepted as buyer Prime Healthcare, notorious for cutting staff and services. The Attorney General must approve the sale and we’ll do all we can to oppose it.
October’s UNAC/UHCP convention was a celebration of what we’ve achieved through solidarity and a challenge to broader solidarity and greater achievements. The theme was “Forty in Ten,” a mysterious phrase the meaning of which will soon become clear. I spoke there about how much we’ve grown in just the last four years. We’ve added 4,000 new members, taking us to 24,000. We’re up to 28 Staff Reps. We’ve doubled the number of SPNN Staff Reps. We’ve gone from 800 AFSCME PEOPLE members to 2,000. Over 10% of our members are PEOPLE MVPs.
We’re not just growing, we’re expanding our vision. We’ve embraced technology to make union participation easier. We now conduct affiliate officer nominations online, with candidate bios on our website. We’re rolling out electronic grievance forms to make contract enforcement easier. We had a convention app for delegates’ smartphones. We’ve been holding an innovative online candlelight vigil to shine a light on the problem of violence in our workplaces.
This is not growth for its own sake. When you organize enough hospitals you can start to change standards for a whole region. We’ve won wage grids at Parkview, Lakewood and Fountain Valley. When enough hospitals have wage grids, it becomes the standard—required at every hospital to attract and retain good nurses. With increased union density, unionized nurses can set the standards of patient care for the whole region. With more PEOPLE members, we have a stronger voice to protect our interests and our patients when legislators pass laws or write regulations that impact how we do our jobs, and when corporate interests like ALEC attack unions and collective bargaining.
So what does “Forty in Ten” mean? It’s about continuing to grow our power, vision and membership. Read about the UNAC/UHCP Convention inside to find out exactly what it means.
Ken Deitz, RN