The Massachusetts Nurses Association and our MNA nurses at Cooley Dickinson Hospital are proud to support the efforts of staff at CDH who are seeking to organize with 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Congratulations on taking the first step toward joining a union!
Below is a letter to the editor published on Thursday, May 25, 2017 in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about the organizing effort.
Kim O’Connor and Andrea Fox: More Cooley Dickinson workers to vote on union
Letter to the Editor
During the last Massachusetts Nurses Association contract negotiations at the Cooley Dickinson Hospital, the registered nurses and their hospital counterparts saw that collective bargaining could be done in a respectful and effective manner which seemed to have a ripple effect felt housewide.
In fact, following each bargaining session, Kate Bechtold, the former director of nurses, sent regular email negotiation updates to all staff highlighting the discussions and appreciating the atmosphere of professionalism and respect.
Today, SEIU1199 has attained a neutrality agreement, allowing about 500 coworkers the opportunity to hold an election and be represented by their union without interference from the hospital.
The unionized nurses of CDH are excited and hopeful that our hardworking colleagues are interested in finding their collective strength, defining their mutual interests, and having a process that is protected by law to see their goals come to fruition and secured in their own contract.
We cannot emphasize enough the power of having a contract and enjoying the protection it affords to members. Sometimes it is easy to forget or take for granted how a union contract provides uniform work rules, a process for who gets a new position, a consistent process for how one gets time off and how much time they are entitled to, seniority that is very important when bidding for positions and during times of reduction in force, health, retirement and other benefits that are locked in and cannot be arbitrarily taken away, a process that allows employees to challenge unreasonable disciplinary action, a pay scale that applies to everyone, and lots of other important language that encourages fairness for all. These provisions give workers respect, courage, dignity, and justice.
The unionized registered nurses at CDH are encouraged that there may be more coworkers who will feel the safety of speaking up for their patients and speaking up for themselves.
It is true as one of us gets stronger we all get stronger. We look forward to having more unionized brothers and sisters working alongside us feeling confident and empowered to act without fear of reprisal and with the power that comes when we all join together with a unified voice.
In the words of John F. Kennedy, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” We look forward to sailing on this journey together.
Kim O’Conno, RN
Andrea Fox, RN
O’Connor is chairperson of the Cooley Dickinson Hospital bargaining unit of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. Fox is associate director of the Division of Labor Action of the Massachusetts Nurses Association.