President’s Message – December 2010
After thirty three years, I will retire at the end of the year as your President.
I have often talked about UNAC/UHCP's beginning when a small group of nurses met in the clubhouse of a trailer park to discuss ways to improve our working conditions. Our first meeting was held on May 21, 1972.
We had nurses from four hospitals talking on that day – Balboa Naval, Los Alamitos, LA County, and Kaiser Fontana – and the in-plant nurses from McDonald Douglas. We decided UNAC's structure then and there. Nurses would represent nurses. Any member would be able to easily contact the union officers. Every facility would have their own organization called an affiliate with their own officers. Our Association would be led by an Executive Council with a representative from each of our Affiliates, so members would have a voice in the organization. We would represent our members in all areas – legislation, collective bargaining, and representation. We would be run by nurses who would be elected, not hired. And for the most part, this is how we've remained, for 38 years. I feel so fortunate to have led this union through so many firsts.
We were the first ever Southern California nurse's organization to go on strike in 1977. Eight hundred nurses in four Kaiser facilities went on strike for 30 days. We drove Kaiser crazy. And we won what had caused us to strike – a management nurse would now be in charge of the staffing office, nurses would get every other weekend off, and our wages were no longer tied to hospital council rates. We argued St. Francis nurses right to organize in the courts – and won the right to have an all RN Bargaining Unit. We were the first independent nurses union to affiliate with an AFL-CIO union. When the Sharp nurses organized in 1996, it was the single largest group of Registered Nurses to vote in a NLRB certification election in the history of the US Labor movement. We were one of the founding unions of the historic Labor Management Partnership with Kaiser, the single largest, longest coalition in the labor movement. Through this Partnership we were able to push for staffing ratios which have been proven to save lives.
I want to thank all of you for your support over these many years. Without you, UNAC/UHCP wouldn't exist. You – the members – are the heart and soul of this union. I want you and I need you to continue to be our heart and soul. To stand with the new President and the State Officers as they carry the UNAC/UHCP tradition forward, making it the best, most innovative health care union in the country. Thank you. You truly are the best.
Kathy J. Sackman, RN