President’s Message – March 2010
The U.S entered a recession in late 2007. It's been called the "Great Recession," referring to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Certainly this is the longest and deepest since then, with more than 8 million jobs lost. There is, however, widespread belief among economists that the recession is over. But it sure doesn't feel like it, and won't for some time to come.
For Registered Nurses and other Health Care Professionals, it may not even feel like especially tough times. While it's true we all have friends and neighbors who have either lost their jobs, had their work hours cut or had their pay cut, the recession has had less of an impact on the majority of us. We have our jobs, and haven't faced large scale reductions or layoffs. Our work hours haven't been cut. And, for the most part, we continue to get reasonable pay increases.
Why is that? Sure, we're good at our jobs. But really, so are many of our friends who lost their jobs. The difference is that health care has experienced job growth over the past two years - the only industry to do so, other than government. Additionally, the shortage of nurses and other health care professionals is still alive and well.
Many of our contracts will be re-negotiated this year, and as you can imagine, bargaining new agreements in difficult economic times is challenging. Even if the employers we are negotiating with are getting through these tough times and generating profits, they may use this environment to propose changes they otherwise would not approach us with. Our bargaining goals, however, remain the same in good times and bad: wages that compensate you for your knowledge, skills and professionalism; health and welfare, and retirement benefits that provide security for you and your family; and safe, adequately staffed working conditions that allow you to do what you do best - provide high quality care and comfort to your patients and their families.
Our success in large part will depend on you, our members. Our challenge - your challenge - is to remain firm in our commitment to maintain and build upon the contracts we are renewing. I know we can be successful if we work together toward this common goal.
Kathy J. Sackman, RN