News & Events

MNA Labor School: Understanding the Big Picture

The MNA Labor School holds classes for any and all MNA members. Classes are not limited to Bargaining Unit Chairs, officers and Floor Representatives; in fact, we encourage all members to attend. Attending the Labor School allows nurses and health care professionals a chance to meet others who work in the health care field and share many of the same work problems and issues. It helps generate an appreciation for all the types of work environments that MNA members work in, as well as building a foundation for understanding how the union works and what tools are available to every member. Those who attend learn what their rights are on the job as well as how to interpret and enforce the contract, and how to advocate for themselves and their patients. The school affords a learning experience that goes well beyond the nuts-and-bolts aspects on how to file a grievance and how to organize the workplace. The classes are held at the Region 1 Office in Northampton. They start at 5:30 and run until 7:30 or 8:00 PM. Scores of Region 1 members have attended since the Labor School’s inception a few years ago. In fact, response has been so positive that we’re adding a morning session for members whose work schedule is in conflict with attending the evening class. “Labor School takes the mystery out of the process” says Chris Clark, who’s attended three out of the five Labor School tracks. “I didn’t have much experience in grievance handling, but now I understand the procedure. For things I have had experience in, like contract negotiations, the class really validated the information and showed me how it fit into the larger process. Labor School helped me understand the big picture; now I feel more confident with my rights and responsibilities as a union member.” The school has 6 separate “tracks” that focus on different aspects of labor. Each track is comprised of 5-6 classes that meet about twice a month. The tracks are: MNA Overview and Structure; Role of the Floor Rep and Grievances; Collective Bargaining; Computer Training; Building the Unit and the Union; Labor Law. The computer training track was added last year and involves hands-on training in several software programs including, Word, Excel and Publisher. The class is designed to be useful for the computer novice as well as for the more advanced person. “Some people think they only need a union rep if they’re getting disciplined,” says Bargaining Unit Chair Diane Michael, who’s attended four out of the five tracks, “But this class gives you information that you can use in your everyday work. It’s not just for the committees, everyone needs to know their rights, and what management can and can’t make them do.” Class dates and times are published in each month’s Massachusetts Nurse Advocate as well as on the MNA web site at (click on the menu item for Labor Action at the top of the page, then look for the MNA Labor School symbol on the right side under the menu item for Health and Safety; when you click on the Labor School symbol it will open a new window with the upcoming dates). If you work the second or third shift, check out the morning session starting at 10:00 AM and running until Noon. These daytime classes will be starting on Tuesday, July 14, 2009. We will begin with Track #2 which focuses on “The Role of the Floor Rep., Grievances and Arbitration.” This track runs for 5 weeks. The subsequent sessions for this track will be held on: Tuesday, July 28; Tuesday, August 11; Tuesday, August 25; and Tuesday, September 1. On these same dates, the Labor School will continue its evening program from 5:30 to 7:30, but the content will be on Track 5, “Building the Union.” Finally, those who attend and complete any two Labor School tracks will receive a free MNA blue jacket, with the MNA Labor School logo printed on the front and the MNA logo on the back.