President’s Message – March 2015
Are we ready for 2016? Until a major election approaches, and the pundits start weighing in on the polls and the horse race, it’s easy to forget about politics. Let’s be clear, politics happens every day, largely out of our view, and it can have a dramatic effect on our lives as health care professionals and union members. For instance, at a recent State Senate hearing, the California Hospital Association proposed eliminating staffing ratios as a means of lowering health care costs. We have to be ready to fight this proposal if it goes any further. In better news, Cal/OSHA is now crafting regulations to help protect health care workers from violent assault on the job. I’m proud to say that UNAC/UHCP members helped make that happen—with our testimony at hearings in Sacramento and downtown Los Angeles; by the thousands signing UNAC/UHCP’s online petition; with our online candlelight vigil photos; and by telling our stories of violent assault to reporters.
When nurses and others vote to join our union, their elections are often challenged by their employers. UNAC/UHCP files Unfair Labor Practice charges against such employers when needed. These issues are decided by the National Labor Relations Board—whose members are appointed by the President of the United States. A different President means different appointees who might favor employers over union members. In President Obama’s state of the union address, he underscored the importance of labor unions, and we need to make sure we protect that conversation moving forward. The U.S. Supreme Court justices, who are all appointed by the President, are expected to issue decisions this year on the Affordable Care Act and the future of organized labor. In 2016 we will have a presidential election which can determine the future of the Supreme Court. Californians will also vote for a new Senator. If we only get involved a month before the election to walk a precinct or make a few phone calls, we will lose.
To be ready for 2016, every effective affiliate should have its own political program. Every UNAC/UHCP member should be a PEOPLE MVP. Your contributions will have an impact on the future of labor and health care. We cannot afford to not have a voice to prevent workplace violence. We cannot afford to lose our staffing ratios. And we cannot afford to lose the right to be in a union.
Ken Deitz, RN