NEW YORK NURSE: December 2009
by Randi Hoffman
Role playing was part of an interactive training program designed to prepare New York City nurses to meet with legislators for lobbying appointments. Conducted by NYSNA community affairs representative Carol Pittman, the session attracted nurses from Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and New Jersey.
NYSNA nursing representatives Sonia Echevarria and Joan Sommermeyer, release time representative Roderick Brown and community affairs intern Matthew Hanson acted as legislators. The groups practiced caucusing and speaking about issues such as safe staffing, workplace violence, and why legislation is needed to recognize nursing as a physically taxing profession.
After the role play, the participants said they were more confident about meeting their elected officials. They discussed the follow-up necessary after each meeting. Participants divided into small groups to discuss the difference between day-to-day gripes and true nursing issues, as well as ways to increase legislators’ awareness of these issues.
In addition to lobbying tips, Pittman told the nurses to contact legislators at the beginning of a contract campaign. “Set up a getting-to-know-you session,” she advised. “Don’t wait until you’re in a bad spot or about to take a strike vote. If they know you, it’s not so hard to bring up a bigger ask later on.” She told the nurses to follow up, keep the legislators informed, and let them know when a contract has been signed.
Pittman is available to schedule “get ready to meet your legislator” training for any New York City area bargaining unit. She can be reached at 212-785-0157, ext. 201 or firstname.lastname@example.org.