NEW YORK NURSE: January/February 2012
by Marva Wade, RN, president, NYSNA Delegate Assembly
For the very first time in our history, the NYSNA Delegate Assembly was held in New York City at our office.
Elected members from all over the state filled a conference room for two full days of debate, discussion and decisions.
The weather outside was cold, and the debates inside were heated, but we came out of the meeting with the clearest sense of direction I have felt as a leader of this organization in many years.
As you know, we are in the middle of a major transition.
New elected leaders. Staff in new positions. A new transparency in conducting the union's business.
But, most importantly, a new fighting spirit as we stand up for ourselves, our patients and our families.
As a veteran Mount Sinai nurse, I can tell you that incredibly strong spirit showed itself in the recent contract fights at my hospital, at New York-Presbyterian, at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt and at Montefiore.
We can all be proud of what we won — each contract made important gains in keeping health care affordable, in decent wages and in making sure our workplaces are safe for our patients and our members.
But more than those gains, we should take pride in how supportive the public and patients were to us in these stressful situations, how sympathetic most of the media coverage was and how well-coordinated our teams of staff and leaders were.
We should take pride in the high level of coordination between our bargaining teams, supported by our new staff leadership; our four successful strike votes; and our overall teamwork.
And, in a way that we have to continue to build on, thousands of members in these workplaces, and in many others, came out to speak out and stand up for themselves in these contract fights. When nurses are a mobilized force, we can win what we need.
That proud spirit flowed through the discussions.
Like many elected members of the Delegate Assembly, I am frustrated that we are only an advisory body that makes recommendations to NYSNA’s Board of Directors.
As I look around the DA meeting, I see hundreds of years of wisdom and experience that should be used to guide our organization through these tough times for the 99% of our members whose life work is bound to a negotiated agreement.
Muffling these voices is undemocratic, a waste of talent – and it’s wrong.
Here are some of the major recommendations we made and sent to the union’s Board of Directors for their action:
It is my honor to serve as president of your Delegate Assembly. I have to thank Interim Executive Director Julie Pinkham and NYSNA’s Economic and General Welfare Program Director Nancy Kaleda for their support of our efforts, their respect for leaders and members and their unbelievable dedication to building the NEW NYSNA. I look forward to sharing an exciting and productive 2012 with all of you.