President’s Message – March 2012
UNAC/UHCP is about to begin negotiations with our largest employer, Kaiser Permanente. This contract directly affects over half our members, who belong to the Kaiser affiliates. But ultimately it will affect every single UNAC/UHCP member.
Kaiser's the largest hospital chain in California. The contract we win with Kaiser will set the standard for every hospital where our members work. It will either raise or lower the bar for all of us. So we're doing a lot to prepare. We've collected thousands of bargaining surveys. We've recruited over 2,000 Contract Action Team members. We've even launched a new web page for news and resources, including online sign-ups for National Bargaining: unacuhcp.org/2012bargaining. We've got some great new tools, but some things never change. The secret to winning is simple: if we stick together, we win. If every member stays informed and gets involved, that unity is unbeatable.
While the results of Kaiser negotiations shall set the standards for all unionized Registered Nurses in Southern California, there are much larger issues on our horizon. The largest of which is another deceptive measure, which you'll see on the November ballot, with a single goal—to silence our union and our members. Again, this measure is backed by wealthy corporate interests who believe that they should have the only voice in our futures. The airwaves will be filled with propaganda attacking nurses, firefighters, police, teachers and other unionized workers labeling us as “special interest groups.” They are correct; we are special and will remain special, as unions are the voice of the workers.
No doubt, politics is important to us as nurses. We fought hard in the political arena for California's Safe Staffing law; needle-stick protection; and to protect our home addresses from being published on the internet. To win on those issues we needed help from elected leaders who support health care professionals and our patients. The same elected leaders have stood with us in our contract fights, like at Beverly Hospital. We must do this: fight to defeat this attack on our political voice, and continue to always fight to put the patient first.
Ken Deitz, RN