We’ve Prepared for This
In a few months, 26,000 NYSNA nurses will go to 12 tables across New York and collectively bargain to improve working conditions, including staffing and safety challenges. NYSNA nurses have prepared for this moment, understanding that this is an opportunity to provide better care for patients and communities.
When NYSNA nurses gather at bargaining tables this fall, we will be united in a shared commitment to winning the salaries, staffing, safety and security members deserve. We will go to the table understanding that a good contract for one set of workers is insufficient —we must raise the standard for all healthcare workers.
This historic moment is an opportunity for healthcare workers to advocate for policies and practices that will benefit patients, communities and the healthcare profession broadly. That is because when health and hospital systems care for nurses, those nurses in turn care for patients. A sick nurse cannot provide optimal care, nor can a nurse who is overextended (from caring for more patients that is advisable) offer the level of care patients deserve. Negotiations therefore are about uplifting the entire community.
NYSNA has spent months preparing for this moment. Since last fall, we have held statewide bargaining conferences and other convenings to discuss best practices for bargaining, the development of campaign plans and strategies for maximizing outreach with colleagues. We did not want nurses from different regions and employers to go into negotiations not understanding what is at stake or the power we have just by being united. We approach this moment with confidence and great clarity.
A Formidable Opponent
Many of you may know that we are up against a well-organized machine. We will negotiate with management entities that have influence and reach at the local, state and national levels. In the same way that management’s reach extends to multiple levels of government, our reach must also be extensive and coordinated. That is why we continue to build on partnerships with larger unions such as National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union of nurses in the country. NNU has worked to advance the interests of direct care nurses and patients; unite all registered nurses together to gain influence in negotiations with the healthcare industry, governments and employers; and amplify the voice of direct care registered nurses. If we continue to strategize and dialogue with partners such as NNU as well as with healthcare professionals across regions and employers, we know that we will be in the best position possible.
What Is Good for the Community Is Good for Us
While management is more connected than ever, we know that they are no match for determined healthcare professionals who understand that our communities and our patients rely on us having a strong voice. Nurses with a strong voice are typically able to bargain better contracts, which helps ensure improved patient outcomes. Nurses who do not fear speaking up at work are more likely to flag issues that could become safety concerns if left unaddressed.
The Economic Policy Institute found that “Where workers have been able to act collectively and through their union, they have been able to secure enhanced safety measures, additional premium pay, and paid sick time. Unionized workers have had a voice in how their employers navigate the pandemic, including negotiating for terms of furloughs or work-share arrangements to save jobs.”
Additionally, unionized healthcare professionals are more likely to have healthcare benefits and more likely to work to keep healthcare costs down for the entire community. For instance, NYSNA has long advocated for Medicare For All, which would ensure all people could access safe, affordable and quality care. We care about the community in the same way we care about ourselves.
As we enter this season, we do so knowing that we are prepared. We also do so knowing that one or two victories is insufficient; we must change the game for all healthcare professionals. That can only happen one contract and one relationship at a time.
We did not want nurses from different regions and employers to go into negotiations not understanding what is at stake or the power they have just by being united.”