President's Column: Times are tough, but the MNA is ready—time for united action
From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
September 2010 Edition
By Donna Kelly-Williams
As the Massachusetts Nurse was heading to press, a strike was looming for the courageous nurses of North Adams Regional Hospital, who were making a stand for their patients, for their practice and for their own dignity. As they did so, the MNA was mobilizing: placing ads in the newspaper, on radio and television, mobilizing the labor and political community, generating incredibly positive media coverage and printing lawn signs, banners and store signs. Our labor educators and organizers were working with the nurses on building committees and strategies to win the strike. All of the MNA’s resources were directed to the 102 nurses at this small community hospital. They are a small unit, but they were never alone, and they had a powerful voice because they are part of something bigger.
Their fight was our fight, and similar fights are brewing in all corners of the commonwealth. At Quincy Medical Center, nurses continue to battle an oppressive management team and dangerous staffing conditions. They too are placing ads in the media, posting lawn signs in their community and mobilizing to stand up for what they believe. At Tufts Medical Center and Boston Medical Center, nurses there prepared for contentious negotiations with staffing at the center of the debate. Nurses in nearly every hospital are facing layoffs and restructuring, but again, they are not alone. Their union is working for them, negotiating the impact of these layoffs to minimize the impact on nurses to the greatest extent possible.
Nurses at Cape Cod Hospital’s psych unit have just learned that they will have a position added back to their unit in response to a campaign they waged with the MNA.
A group of Taunton school nurses made a powerful presentation before their school committee advocating for restoration of their jobs, a presentation developed and coordinated by the Region 3 community organizer.
On the legal front, our attorneys are advocating for members, winning a major arbitration decision at Cooley Dickinson Hospital to protect the nurses’ pensions, which were illegally frozen. This issue of the Massachusetts Nurse features a story about Elaine Gill, a courageous nurse who was terminated by her hospital under trumped-up charges. The MNA won her case. Gill was reinstated and compensated for this injustice.
Wherever our members are facing problems, the MNA is there. The Board of Directors have been walking through facilities and attending meetings nearly every night. Yes, we are hearing fear and uncertainty, but we are also hearing a sense of solidarity and resolve by our members and we are seeing them looking to the MNA as a source of strength and power.
The times are indeed hard, but all of us, as members of the MNA, have nothing to fear as long as we stick together and work together. As always, the Board wants to hear from you and to work with you whenever you need us. Our names and e-mail addresses are on the MNA Web site and my direct line is 781.830.5780 or you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.