NEW YORK NURSE: June/July 2012
by Dan Lutz
One strong union. One united voice: That’s what more than 2,500 NYSNA members voted overwhelmingly for on May 17.
The changes to NYSNA’s bylaws each passed by an overwhelming margin.
What a stunning sight to see thousands of members rising to vote to make their union better! The sound of thousands of clappers was thunderous.
The changes we made:
The old NYSNA rules allowed “hire and fire” supervisors to serve on the Board of Directors – but that meant our elected leaders were unable to discuss and act on union matters. Union decisions were delegated to the hired CEO.
Under the new rules, you will elect an expanded board who will be able to discuss and decide on union business as well as general professional issues – setting the direction for a powerful, member-driven NYSNA, based on the needs of working bedside nurses.
Members are speaking for a stronger, more united union. Here’s what they had to say on May 17 and the days leading up to our historic meeting.
“Four months ago I felt very proud of my colleagues – that was the day we ratified a contract that gives us a strong voice on the job and better staffing.”
“It was a very tough fight. But we won.”
“I saw a glimpse of the future that we are voting on today. Dedicated members fighting for what’s right. Strong union staff working by our sides. That’s an experience we want to have when you fight for your contract.”
— Grace Olajide, RN, Montefiore Moses
“We are here because we want a union that fights for us.”
“We want a union that tells politicians like Michael Bloomberg to take the private sector’s hands off our public sector service.”
“We are here because we want a union that tells HHC management that we need safe staffing levels.”
“The new NYSNA has begun that fight. It’s a beautiful thing.”
— Claire Miguel, RN, Bellevue Hospital
“I am here to represent my 350 members, non-RNs in the Professional Zone at NYSNA.”
“We work at Peconic Bay Medical Center, Champlain Valley, and Brooks Memorial. We represent respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physical therapy, social workers, laboratory technology, IT people, radiology, and more.”
“I am so proud that today we are getting a voice and a vote in our union.”
— Diane Groneman, Peconic Bay Medical Center
“In our last contract fight, we had to remind management that while they are the bean-counters, we are the heart and soul of our hospital.”
“That’s what a new NYSNA looks like to me. United members and strong union resources all pointing in the same direction. United members and strong union resources all pointed against the people willing to put profits before patients.”
“United members and strong union resources speaking with one voice for safe staffing.”
“That’s the future I’m voting for today.”
— Anthony Ciampa, RN, New York-Presbyterian
“Corporate greed is destroying healthcare. The insurance and healthcare companies have one goal – to make money.”
“They don’t care how they do it. They deny treatment to the poor and uninsured. They cut staffing levels and make us do more a more with less and less.”
“As a union and as RNs, we have a different set of values. We push for adequate staffing levels. We push for quality care for every single person.”
“Having a CEO for NYSNA doesn’t reflect our values. This is a good change. It puts our union values of democracy, accountability, and caring front and center.”
— Safia Boti, RN, Maimonides
“We are a union – not a corporation.”
“We have a responsibility to organize ourselves as a strong, militant fighting union.”
“CEOs are the people that sit on the other side of the negotiating table. CEOs are the people who have been ripping us off for the last 100 years.”
— Sean Petty, RN, Jacobi Medical Center/HHC
“For all those who say that’s the way we’ve always done this: Only 12 percent of working people are now unionized. So whatever was being done for the last generation – it’s not working anymore.
“Why should we continue on the same path that we’ve been on if it hasn’t been working?”
— Laura Rutherford, RN, New York-Presbyterian
“The people who sit on the board need to be nurses – floor nurses – people who are actually out there working, who understand what it’s like to be in the trenches.”
— Carol Ann Lemon, RN, Ellis Hospital