Together, we have set an ambitious agenda to keep building a movement for respect for nurses and quality healthcare for all New Yorkers.
We made important progress in 2013, but our fight is far from over. Corporate interests and their anti-union allies in politics will keep coming after quality care for patients and the respect for nurses that we insist on.
Our agenda for 2014
- Unite public and private sector nurses in a mass movement to win strong contracts. A strong contract is the best way to guarantee quality patient care and to defend our practice.
- Stop the Wall Street attack on patient care. Make no mistake; with hundreds of billions of dollars of hospital revenue at stake, corporate healthcare interests will be back. And we will need to step up our work to stop them, again.
- Pass safe staffing legislation. We will triple our effort and be prepared to respond quickly to any legislator who tries to block vital legislation that would help patients.
- Fight for a moratorium on all hospital cuts and closures. Many rural and urban safety net hospitals are struggling. And even some profitable private hospital chains are trying to cut care for “unprofitable” patients. The New York State Department of Health is supposed to protect patients – instead it is rubber-stamping these cuts.
We will keep building the movement to keep hospitals open for care. And we will join with other unions, community groups, and elected leaders to fight for a single-payer system that guarantees healthcare for all New Yorkers.
Over the past two years, we have transformed NYSNA into a democratic and active union. In 2012, thousands of us voted to eliminate “insulation,” a policy that prevented NYSNA members from exercising any control over our union. We passed a series of democratic changes to our union’s bylaws that give us the power to elect a Board of Directors that has direct control over the policy of our union.
But there’s more to be done.
Transition Task Force
The Board of Directors created a Transition Task Force – made up of elected board members, other NYSNA leaders, and legal counsel – to review our bylaws, our union’s constitution, and recommend changes to help us build power for nurses. NYSNA’s bylaws, for instance, establish more than 10 different committees, councils, and working groups that have to be permanently staffed and headed up by groups of nurses. Each of these committees is basically on its own to set policy and carry out its work. Nursing practice, the core of our union’s work and mission, currently is divided into six different committees, which is senseless.
The Transition Task Force has drafted a series of changes to NYSNA’s bylaws. Our goal: to focus the structure of our union on our core work – collective bargaining, legislative advocacy, and nursing practice. The Board of Directors has voted to endorse these proposals.
The proposed changes to the bylaws would create three bodies to work hand-in-hand with our elected Board of Directors:
The Council on Legislation is where nurse leaders will help craft NYSNA’s legislative strategy, including stopping the Wall Street takeover of patient care and winning safe staffing. The expanded Council on Legislation will actively coordinate this work with our elected Board of Directors, our Political and Community Organizing Department, and our Political Action Committee.
The Council on Nursing Practice will be significantly expanded to bring greater focus to our work to defend nursing practice. The council will bring the work of six current committees together into one. The council will work closely with the Nursing Practice Department to promote solutions to practice issues through on-the-job organizing, contract enforcement, and the application of existing regulations and legal statutes.
The Congress of Local Bargaining Unit Leaders is where member leaders from every facility will come together to share information, discuss strategy, learn from one another, and develop leadership skills. This will be a forum for NYSNA leaders to hear first-hand about what’s happening in our hospitals across New York and to work together to develop our response. Under our new bylaws, the Congress will work in close connection with our elected Board of Directors.
Making NYSNA more democratic and accountable
The Transition Task Force also recommended changes to codify transparency and accountability in our bylaws. Our Board of Directors highly recommends we make these simple and straightforward changes:
- Add the Election Committee to NYSNA’s bylaws. Although we already have an Election Committee, this change guarantees that members will always control our election process.
- Clarify the role of our Executive Committee, which is made up of our union’s five top elected leaders, by spelling out their responsibilities – helping to prepare and facilitate the work of the entire board, and addressing major issues that need immediate attention.
- Strengthen the relationship between NYSNA and District Nurses Associations. NYSNA’s current structure puts our organization at legal risk, because District Associations can act in our name even though NYSNA members do not get to elect their leaders. Under this change, District Nurses Associations will gain full independence from NYSNA. They will be able to join with NYSNA as affiliated organizations.