Affiliate Leaders Jumpstart the Future at Annual Conference – July/August’11 Voice

July 2011

UNAC/UHCP affiliate officers wasted no time in getting down to business on the first morning of their annual conference, when they considered the challenges and opportunities facing nurses and health care professionals from national health care reform, and the Governor’s efforts to balance the California state budget.

Beth Capell, a member of UNAC/UHCP’s legislative and policy advocacy team in Sacramento, discussed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). AFSCME and the U.S.  Labor movement were instrumental in winning passage of this historic law, which will lead to increased demand for health care–including more nurses–and pressure providers to control costs, presenting challenges to UNAC/UHCP in bargaining. Affiliate officers agreed that UNAC/UHCP must educate its members about the ACA and engage them in meeting the challenges and opportunities.

Affiliate officers in breakout groups discussed the Act’s impact and how hospital management might act in the new environment. “We’ve all got to stick together,” said Cecilia Hipolito-Fischer, RN and Hospital President at Kaiser West LA. “Management has got to feel our unity.”

“The stronger we are, the stronger our union is,” Helen Bouman, RN and President of the Garden Grove affiliate, told the other affiliate officers as they worked together to lay out a vision for the future of the union over the next ten years.

Bouman told how Garden Grove nurses stood together when their hospital’s new owner unilaterally eliminated their extended sick leave program. The nurses filed a grievance, submitted evidence, and ultimately won it all back. “The more active we are in our facilities,” she said, “the greater our morale.”