Thursday, January 7, 2010

BeyondChron's Guest Comment

In yesterday's BeyondChron there was a guest editorial penned by Suzanne Gordon, who quite heartily endorsed NUHW in the upcoming SoCal KaiPerm elections.

Prior to getting into her commentary, I think it worth a look at who Suzanne Gordon is, what her track record is, and whether or not she can just be painted by the Zombies as just another NUHW stooge. Long story short, she isn't...

Suzanne Gordon is an award-winning journalist and author. She has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic Monthly, the American Prospect, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and others. She’s the author of seven books including Life Support: Three Nurses on the Front Lines which was originally published by Little Brown & Co. and which has just been reissued by Cornell University Press with a new forward by Claire Fagin and epilogue by the author; and co-editor of three books and co-author of From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public. Her book on the nursing crisis –Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses and Patient Care — is out in paperback published by Cornell University Press. She is also co-editor ,with Sioban Nelson, of Complexities of Care: Nursing Reconsidered, also by Cornell University Press. Her latest book, Safety in Numbers: Nurse-to-Patient Ratios and the Future of Health Care was published by CUP in April 2008.

She has been a health care commentator in the U.S. for CBS Radio News and Public Radio International’s “Marketplace” business program, and a popular lecturer. She is also Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and Assistant, Adjunct Professor at the University of California San Francisco’s School of Nursing. Gordon is co-editor of Cornell University Press’s series on the Culture and Politics of Health Care Work.

Given the above bona-fides, here is what Ms. Gordon had to say about the upcoming elections...
RNs today face mounting difficulties. Hospital budget-cutting is once again eliminating the jobs of nurses and increasing their workloads — a trend that may only get worse due to the troubled state of our local economy and “health care reform” in Washington that may fall short of our hopes and needs.

Even at a health care employer as heavily unionized and profitable as Kaiser, we see the danger signs: cost-cutting that could lead to under-staffing and erosion of quality patient care. At such a critical moment, nurses need an organization that can advocate effectively for their own interests and those of their patients.

It has been my long-standing policy not to get involved in organizational decisions involving RNs. I’ve worked with many different nurses’ associations and unions, professional organizations, and specialty groups, in the U.S. and abroad. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, good points and bad. But it is up to nurses themselves to make them better vehicles for achieving personal, professional, and workplace goals.

In this case, however, I feel I must stand up for one union that I have come to know very well and greatly respect. The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) has not abandoned the coalition of patients, care givers, and health care advocates that helped achieve past gains for RNs and their communities in California.

More than ever before, nurses need a union that will fight to uphold California’s landmark safe staffing law. They need a union that will help them be more pro-active in dealing with hospital restructuring, work reorganization, and the introduction of new computer technology. They need a union that can make labor-management relations at Kaiser a real partnership again, rather than an LMP dominated by people who are not — and in some cases, have never been — bedside nurses.

I believe that having a democratic union, responsive to both professional issues and day-to-day job concerns, is the only way to improve the status and role of nursing within KP. Just as RNs seek to build good working relationships with doctors and administrators — based on recognition of their skill, experience, and professional autonomy — working nurses also deserve the same kind of respect from the organization that negotiates and administers their union contract, while collecting dues from them in return.

Size alone does not guarantee union effectiveness or greater responsiveness to the membership. A bargaining unit run by and for its own members, relying on their professional dedication, creativity, and ideas, can move mountains.

The current campaign to restore a real “voice at work” for RNs and other care-givers at Kaiser in California is important for nurses everywhere. I look forward to working with you and other members of NUHW, now and in the future.

The lack of independent voices who will speak on the behalf of Zombie UHW is kinda glaring. Almost all of the independent contributors to the discussion have come in on the side of NUHW.

1 comment:

  1. A democratic member-led union is the most important factor for members voting for NUHW. Just because SEIU has millions of dues dollars to run their campaigns is not enough for them to win. SEIU has been exposed as probably the most corrupt anti-worker union in the country. They will sell you out in a minute just to grow their membership at any cost. SEIU's collusion with the bosses has disillusioned most home and health care workers in California and they won't take it any more.




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