In the face of management intransigence and bottom-line pencil pushing best known in the for-profit sector, our nurses face the challenge of bargaining for fair contracts, exercising rights under those contracts and, throughout, protecting high standards of quality patient care.
Member leader training prepares members for these essential tasks, with targeted seminars, instruction and exercises. Close to 500 NYSNA members across New York have participated in these trainings. At Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, 60 nurses have participated and support for this effective training is very strong.
Standing up, demanding respect
What does it take to be a good member leader? At the workshops, nurses are learning the necessary strategies and skills to exercise their rights under the contract and law to advocate collectively for their patients. NYSNA leaders and staff facilitate the day long workshops, teaching practical organizing skills and strategies and sharing their experience to empower member leaders to speak out and stand up to demand the respect they know they deserve
At a recent Member Leader Training session at Montefiore's Moses Campus, nurses trained in the strategies required to press management to carry out its responsibilities to fill sick calls. At the end of the session, participants gave themselves an assignment. There were three alternatives: organize a meeting on their unit, or recruit another nurse to a contract committee, or observe three NYSNA meetings with management.
On the leadership path
At Montefiore, many NYSNA members are already on the leadership path, and respect runs high among co-workers. Leadership is not a defined role; it is not tied to a title. Leadership is a characteristic of the individual in interaction with others towards a shared goal.
Member Leader Trainings are being scheduled in every region; many are scheduled on-site at hospitals. Contact your NYSNA Representative to find out when Leader Trainings will be coming next to your hospital or local area.
In their own words
Here are some of the responses Montefiore member leader workshop attendees gave NYSNA leader facilitators when asked, “What are issues that brought you here today and what do you want to learn?”
Alfredo Perez, RN, ICU: “Low staffing is the biggest problem. I was active in the union years ago, and I know that if we protest as one, we can win. Nurses are the largest group of clinical employees at these hospitals.”
Marie Kiffen, RN, Step Down Unit: “Safe staffing is a weekly issue for us. I want us to be union strong.”
Alexander Santos, RN, Children’s Hospital Emergency Department: “Management was trying to add higher acuity patients to our unit, but the nurses unified to defend quality care for these children. I want to bring more new RNs closer to NYSNA.”