News & Events

MNA members meet congressmen on their home turf

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
September 2009 Edition

Michele Miola RN, Leominster Hospital; Carolyn Moore, RN, St. Vincent Hospital; April Torname, RN; Patricia Nicoloro, RN, Cambridge Hospital; Olivia Peters RN, Worcester Public Health; Marie Ritacco, RN, St. Vincent Hospital; Vicki Emerson, RN, MetroWest Medical Center – Leonard Morse Campus; Beth Piknick, RN, MNA president.

A delegation of MNA nurses recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Massachusetts congressional delegation to discuss a variety of issues, including RN staffing legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, health care reform, the RESPECT Act, the current fight over DMR facilities and conditions at other local facilities. This trip was a continuation of the MNA’s goal to build stronger relationships with our federal elected officials and establish and maintain a presence in Washington as a critical voice in the health care arena.

At Congresswoman Niki Tsongas’ office, April Torname discussed the importance of the Employee Free Choice Act in giving nurses a voice through collective action to advocate for her patients and Tricia Nicoloro spoke about her concerns around safe RN staffing. At Congressman Michael Capuano’s office, Selina Tinsley discussed the adverse impact some of the Massachusetts health reforms have had on her facility and her concerns about what shape health care reform would take nationally. And at Congressman John Olver’s office Michele Miola discussed the issue of safe nurse staffing and Unit 7 President Michael D’Intinosanto explained how critical the services provided at DMR facilities around the state are to our state’s most vulnerable patients.

The group met personally with Congressman James McGovern. In addition to these critical legislative issues, Carolyn Moore and Marie Ritacco gave the congressman an update on the campaign opposing patients being placed in hallways at St. Vincent’s; Tami Hale discussed the problems facing school nursing departments like hers in Worcester in the current climate. Olivia Peters explained the critical functions served by the Worcester Public Health Department; and Vicki Emerson let him know about some of the issues that had arisen at Metrowest Medical Center.

The group also met with representatives from Senator Kennedy’s office to discuss this wide range of issues affecting RNs in Massachusetts.

Throughout the meetings MNA President Beth Piknick of Cape Cod Hospital and MNA Vice President Donna Kelly-Williams of Cambridge Hospital provided additional information on legislative issues as well as on the mission of the MNA and its pending national affiliation. Joining the contingent were MNA staffers Sandy Ellis, RN, and community organizer from Worcester, Jeanine Hickey, RN and organizer from Haverhill, and Riley Ohlson.

  A group of MNA members from UMass Memorial and University hospitals traveled to Washington to meet with Congressman James McGovern (D-Worcester) to talk about contract negotiations and retirement security. The two bargaining units are working at the table to secure their employer’s participation in a multi-employer pension plan (also referred to as a Taft-Hartley plan).  

“It was an honor for me to travel to Washington to speak on behalf of nurses and patients in my region and in the state,” Marie Ritacco, RN, remarked when discussing why she chose to make the trip. “To be able to speak with our legislators regarding safe staffing was very rewarding. It is important for nurses to stand up and tell their stories and I feel it is our professional and moral responsibility to do so. The experience was exciting and it gave me a renewed sense of excitement over how powerful and respected we are as a professional group.”

Tami Hale, also an RN, added that she “found the trip to be a tremendous learning experience” and that she has “a new appreciation of the camaraderie that common goals and ideas can bring to a group of people.”

The MNA is now planning its next trip to Washington. If you are interested in participating or learning more, contact Riley Ohlson at or at 781.830.5740.