MNA members stand tall and proud in the face of challenging times
From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
March 2010 Edition
By Donna Kelly-Williams
On Feb. 11, I proudly walked the picket lines with nurses from Tufts Medical Center and Boston Medical Center as they conducted a joint informational picket to protest the dangerous changes to their staffing plans at both hospitals. They were protesting increases to their RN-to-patient ratios, as well as changes to their staffing grids that were proposed by the same high-priced consulting firm. I also attended open meetings at Morton Hospital, where nurses are struggling to stop the dangerous practice of mandatory overtime as a staffing mechanism.
At Quincy Medical Center, nurses struggle to maintain decent staffing conditions while they simultaneously fight to keep the hospital afloat. In North Adams, the nurses are mobilizing a campaign to protect their hospital and their contract. And at Cape Cod Hospital, nurses in the psychiatric unit struggle with the issue of workplace violence while fighting to maintain appropriate staffing.
At the same time, nurses at other bargaining units are settling contracts that protect their benefits, like at Signature Healthcare (Brockton Hospital), UMass Memorial Medical Center and Northeast Health Corp., where nurses fought off attempts to cut or dismantle their pension benefits and other takeaways.
These are tough times. Our members are under assault on a number of fronts, but it is clear that our members and the MNA are up to the challenge. In my first 100 days as president, I have made it a point to be out in the field as much as possible. Other Board members are doing the same: meeting with members, listening to their concerns and suggestions, and offering support. We have attended educational programs, local bargaining unit committee meetings and open membership meetings. We have walked picket lines. And we’ve kept in touch with members via phone and e-mail.
Our members are mobilizing; our members are not backing down. We are standing strong. The Board of Directors is committed to working with all of you in any way possible to protect our profession, to defend your contracts and to provide you with the resources you need to do what you decide you need to do.
As a member of the MNA it is important that you understand that you are the union and that your participation with other members in your bargaining unit, in your region, and from across the state is the key to unlocking the power you have as nurses. You can change not only your own situation, but also the situation for all nurses in the commonwealth. Now, through our affiliation with National Nurses United, you can help change nursing and health care across this nation. Very soon you will receive the first edition of the National Nurse, our new national publication that details the initial great work of this burgeoning organization.
The MNA’s Board of Directors, which is made up of practicing staff nurses like you, understands your issues and we are doing everything we can to listen to you and to respond to your concerns. We will continue to be out there where you are. We are planning “MNA Days” at local bargaining units throughout the state where you can come meet us and learn more about the MNA and what it has to offer. (To see how this worked visit the Leomisnter Hospital article.)
This is our profession and this organization was founded to protect it, and you—working in concert with other nurses—are the key to determining the future of nursing and health care. If you have an idea on how we can do a better job, I want to hear it. If you have questions of how you can become more involved, we are ready to help you. As always, I encourage members to call or e-mail me at any time. You can reach me at 781.821.4625, x724 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.