Thursday, April 12, 2012

Union update

First, I would like to apologize to those who don't really care so much about our union and our negotiations. I would like to write more about my life as a nurse or just life in general and I realize my blogs have been heavy on the union stuff but 90% of my non work time has been spend working to bring the nurses I work with a fair contract. It's important stuff, important for the nurses and their families and important for our patients. When we have our first contract I believe things will settle down and I will be able to write about other things. I look forward to that, but for now, please bear with me.
At our last negotiation management proposed wage increases of 0.5%, .075%, and 1% over the next 3 years, along with insurance premiums increases that would mean a decrease in take home pay for anyone with insurance. They also said that there is nothing wrong with their wage system which is based on graduation dates.

This week, we demonstrated, with their figures, how people graduating in 2009 had a range of up to $3/hr difference and how some people actually make less than someone who graduated several years after them. We also demonstrated how the number of people from graduating classes prior to 2007, who still work at the hospital, drops off dramatically.

This is what we have been saying. Nurses stay for 5 years and then leave for other hospitals because at that point they have enough experience to get a job at a hospital where the conditions are better.

Management said they do not contest that our figures (really their figures) or our charts are wrong.

Then they said that they hold on their last proposal.

We have asked them for federal mediation, this is our 4th request.

I was asked, Can't we insist on mediation? Mediation is not arbitration. If we force them into mediation, it's like forcing someone into marriage counseling, they'll show up, but nothing will get done.

I also feel the need to address the petition to decertify the union that got so much press coverage. First let me reiterate that these opinions are mine. The nurses circulating the petition have every right to do so. I believe most of them really believe it is the proper course of action. They are the same nurses who voted no on May 11th and were outvoted. They have been galvanized into this action largely by managements illegal actions of denying nurses the wage increase, bonuses and 403b match. There are some nurses who will never see the merits of forming a nurses organization and collectively seeking to make improvements at our hospital. They have been and continue to be invited to meetings and negotiations and to be a part of the process.

We can't go back to the way things were. When nurses squirreled away catheters and peanut butter in their lockers. When we watched our most promising newly trained nurses move off to other hospitals. We can't go back to the days when those of us who had served this hospital the longest found ourselves facing cut after cut.

I know this seems to be a lot of negative news. Rest assured, I am convinced that we will have a contract, a contract that is fair, that will allow us to provide for our families, that we help retain good nurses, that will allow us to advocate for our patients and keep them safe.

There are many things going on behind the scenes that are better for me not to discuss here. These efforts, and the continued support of our members, will bring home this contract.

You can help. Our next negotiation is Tuesday, April 17 at 7 pm. Nothing helps us more than management looking over our shoulders and seeing a full room.

See you there.


Kathy Leverone, RN, BSN said...
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john said...
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