Friday, June 21, 2013

Union Update 6/21/13

Looking back I can see it's been a long time since I updated you on the Backus Federation of Nurses.
I'm going to try to be more frequent.

In March we had the Governor over to our office for cheese, crackers and discussion, followed up the next week with Senator Murphy coming to tour the hospital.  They've both been big supporters of the Backus nurses.  Both hospital CEO, Dave Whitehead, and I felt that the hospital tour and round table discussion that followed went extremely well.
The United Way breakfast near the end of the month honored Organized Labor's help.

In April I attended my first meeting at the Department of Health as part of the Quality of Care Advisory Committee.  I'm represent the AFL-CIO on the committee.  We had a followup conference call this week and I told them about the Backus High Reliability Organization initiative, the new Corrective Action Policy, and new discipline algorithm (coming soon) that shifts the emphasis from blame to fix.  I think HRO holds potential in bringing about a Just Culture as endorsed by the ANA and can lead to increased patient safety.  It's what we nurses have been advocating forever.  Of course, the devil is in the details and implementation.
Four of us attended the AFT Professional Issues Conference in Baltimore, making and reinforcing relationships with members from around the country and learning from some excellent seminars. I encourage all to consider attending this yearly conference.  Next April's conference will be either back in Baltimore or in Washington, DC.  We do have financial help available to defer some of the cost.  Contact me.
We also honored workers killed or injured on the job and those recently deceased at Worker's Memorial Day Ceremonies in Groton.

In May, VP Melisa Hunter and I cheered on our Nightingale members and also attended the AFT Connecticut convention.  I took a quick trip to Washington to welcome and tell the Backus organizing story to our newest members, the 28,000 RNs of the National Federation of Nurses who voted to join AFT.  They are from Ohio, Oregon, Montana, and Washington State.  AFT wanted them to hear from someone on the ground about the resources available at the Local, State, and National Federation level.  It was a great opportunity to form relationships with so many fine colleges.

The legislative session was carefully monitored by our political liaison, Carol Adams.  We successfully blocked a law that would have made it mandatory to get flu shots with no provision for health or religious exemptions. Our own Erin Cummings submitted testimony on this.
Attempts to strengthen the safe staffing law were blocked.  Our bill would NOT have had any mandated ratios but would have required regular reporting by the hospitals and public posting.  We'll try again.
We took a stand on the state budget to advocate for relief of "needy" hospitals.  You'll be glad to know that our consultant on this rated Backus as the most financially sound hospital in the state.

We have come to agreement with management on several issues, either through the grievance/arbitration process or the labor/management committee.  Some of them I cannot talk about because they involve an individual member, but we have agreed on a confusing but fairer vacation submission process, payment for those held over during the blizzard, and a new corrective action plan, among others.  We still have a few grievances working their way through the system and one pending arbitration.

We continue to monitor the affiliation with Hartford Hospital, the new Norwich surgical center, and the effects of the Affordable Care Act.

Six or seven of our delegates will be attending an AFT Connecticut Leadership Training Day in August.  I want to thank them for giving up their own valuable time to be able to better represent our members, and all the work they do.  A couple of us attended two years ago and found it very helpful.

Our sister Locals at L+M continue their opposition to their hospital's shell game with members.  The hospital has shifted work to LMPA, a division of L+M corporation, and now claims the union does not represent these workers.  The three Locals have filed unfair labor changes with the NLRP and are also proceeding with a traditional organizing drive in the unlikelihood that the labor board decides against them.

The lease on our office (which we assumed from AFT Connecticut) is almost up and our frugal treasurer, Donna Callicutt, has convinced us to look elsewhere.  We may have a new office by summer end, closer to the hospital, with good parking, much smaller, but less expensive.
Vacation reminder:
For the period Sunday prior to Thanksgiving-Saturday after New Years Day.....Submit July 1-15
For the period Sunday after New Years Day-Saturday before Memorial Day....
Submit July 1-31 for full weeks (24 hours or more)...,  submit August 1 for less than 24 hours.
This does not mean you cannot submit after these dates but it does decrease your chances of getting the requested time.

I want to remind you of the discount we have negotiated with Velenti Auto and the discounts through Union Plus, all available with your membership.  This morning I signed papers verifying membership for one of our nurses who is applying for a mortgage through Union Plus.

I also want to ask your help.  We are as strong as our member's involvement.
Budget time is coming up.  Donna needs a couple of people to help her for a brief assignment to formulate next year's budget.  This is the opportunity to influence how your dues are spent.  The assignment lasts only long enough to form the budget, so you're helping without being tied to it forever.
We could also use help with our newsletter.  I am keeping our able Vice President overly busy and she could use whatever help you could offer.

So that's what 5149 has been up to.  My new goal is to update you more often.  Please contact me or any delegate with questions or concerns.

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