From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
February 2009 Edition
Congress is expected to debate the Employee Free Choice Act this legislative session. This important legisation provides:
- The ability to sit at the same table as management to negotiate fair wages, working conditions and benefits.
- The strength to prevent dangerous hospital policies like floating and mandatory overtime through collective action.
- The freedom to speak out for your patients in and outside your facility, without fear of employer reprisal.
These are all things that we, as members of the MNA, may take for granted. But for a quarter of your colleagues in acute care facilities in this state, and more in other fields of nursing, these rights don’t necessarily exist. Many nurses across the commonwealth would like to join a union at their facility, but are unable to because of the current employer-dominated system that denies nurses a true, free choice.
Employers often engage in delay tactics or outright coercion and intimidation to suppress the will of employees. The Employee Free Choice Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy, would do away with the status quo and create a system that allows workers to decide for themselves if they want to form a union.
Under the Employee Free Choice Act, an employer would have to recognize a union when a majority of workers sign a card indicating their preference for union representation. This process is sometimes called majority sign up, and is already voluntarily in place at a number of larger employers like AT&T Corp.
This kind of process results in an environment in which workers truly have a free choice without fear of intimidation, and creates less conflict between employers and employees. It also puts the power of whether or not to hold an election in the hands of the workers, not the employer.
With the Employee Free Choice Act many of our fellow nurses may choose to join with us in our efforts to improve the quality of patient care across the commonwealth. They will be empowered to fight more effectively for the benefits they deserve and for their patients.
If you have questions about this legislation or would like to get involved in the campaign to ensure its passage through Congress, please contact Riley Ohlson at 781.830.5740 or email@example.com. If you are a nurse looking for union representation, please call the MNA’s director of organizing, Eileen Norton, at 781.830.5777 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.