Leading From the Frontlines

NYSNA Nurses Celebrated an Incredible Year At 2023 Convention!

Nurses and healthcare workers from throughout the state came together on Oct. 23-24 in New York City for two days of education, solidarity, advocacy and fun to celebrate an incredible year that matched this year’s Convention theme of “Leading from the Frontlines: Advocating for our patients and our profession.” 

This has been the most successful year in the union’s history, a fact that was reflected in the Convention’s energy. Throughout 2023, NYSNA nurses and healthcare professionals have shown their leadership and power and worked together as one union, leading to groundbreaking contract victories. From the historic private-sector strike in January at Mount Sinai and Montefiore to multiple contract victories in Long Island, the North Country and Western New York to the historic pay parity victory in New York City’s public health system, NYSNA nurses and healthcare workers set a new standard for safe staffing and healthcare worker wages and benefits, inspiring healthcare workers around the country to fight for their rights and their patients. 

Leading Together

NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, BSN, CCRN, kicked off the Convention with a powerful speech reminding members of the goals she laid out to bridge any distinctions between private- and public-sector or downstate and upstate members to lead one fighting union. She also acknowledged the powerful role the affiliation with National Nurses United has played in growing NYSNA’s power, influence and role in the national labor movement.\

Day 1 of the Convention offered compelling education workshops where members learned strategies to advocate for safe staffing, mental health and addiction issues and resources, how to reduce and speak out against workplace violence, how to reduce and prevent burnout in the workplace, strategies to build union power and more. In a standout Convention workshop, nurses had the opportunity to practice their physical assessment skills on state-of-the-art mannequins. 

First-time Convention-goer Sandhya Bhagirathee, RN, said, “I’m a Med-Surg nurse from North Central Bronx Hospital. This is my first convention. I loved all the workshops; the Forces of Magnetism was my favorite. It was amazing — a great experience. I can’t wait for the next Convention.”

One Powerful Union

NYSNA’s powerful year was reflected in the three incredible keynote speakers at this year’s Convention: New York State Attorney General Letitia James; California Nurses Association/ National Nurses Organizing Committee President Cathy Kennedy, RN; and former New York City Health Commission Dr. Dave Chokshi. James brought members to their feet as she spoke about how she would always hold those in power accountable and stand beside NYSNA members.

Kennedy spoke about the impact NYSNA’s powerful campaign victories have had on nurses and healthcare workers throughout the country who were emboldened to fight for strong contracts due to NYSNA’s example. 

She said, “You all set new standards for staffing, wages, and benefits for your nurses at those hospitals, so let me be very clear: Your victory impacted not only your members and those hospitals, but it raised the bar for nurses, healthcare workers across the city, the state of New York and the entire country.”

Chokshi reminded attendees of the cracks in the healthcare system that the pandemic laid bare and of the importance of fighting for healthcare for all to achieve healthcare justice.

Democracy and Solidarity

In addition to the impactful keynote speeches, Day 2 was filled with healthy debate and union democracy as NYSNA delegates discussed and voted on resolutions that will define the union’s direction and priorities for years to come. Review detailed voting results and approved resolution language on the NYSNA website.

Other Convention highlights included honoring New York Relief Network medical mission volunteers in recognition of their commitment to serving some of the most vulnerable communities around the world. NYSNA also gave a warm welcome and message of solidarity to striking nurses from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. United Steelworkers Local 4-200 President Judy Danella, RN, and nurse leader Carol Tanzi, RN, spoke of the challenge of being on strike for more than 80 days (at the time of the Convention) as well as the strength they gained from NYSNA’s picket line support, by collaborating with NYSNA in the historic safe staffing hearing with Sen. Bernie Sanders, and by joining NYSNA nurses at the Convention. 

During a year of historic labor mobilizations that saw writers, actors, autoworkers and healthcare workers go on strike to demand respect, NYSNA led the way with historic victories that have inspired this major resurgence in the U.S. labor movement. NYSNA nurses and healthcare workers showed that we are leading from the front lines — and winning.

Missed the Convention? Check out the video and photo highlights on NYSNA’s social media and on our website. And save the date for next year’s Convention: Oct. 29-30, 2024, in Saratoga, Springs, N.Y.!

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