National Nurses United

Registered Nurse April 2009

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LET TER FROM THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS l e t 's h o p e what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, because registered nurses there are on a roll. We're happy to welcome the more than 1,100 RNs of St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson to the CNA/ NNOC family. They just voted in April to join us and 10,500 of their Catholic Healthcare West colleagues who are already organized with CNA/NNOC and bargaining a master CHW contract in 2009. More on that later. We believe that this is just the beginning of a wave of organizing that will build the national nurses movement into what we know it can be: a powerhouse advocate for RNs, patients, and true single-payer healthcare reform. In addition to the St. Rose election, we took another step toward this vision in March when we agreed to work together with the Service Employees International Union to organize healthcare workers. SEIU agreed to a key premise that's helped us decide to move forward: CNA/NNOC represents the voice of registered nursing in America and should be the union for all of the country's RNs. As we mentioned, 2009 is a huge bargaining year for Catholic Healthcare West, and also two other Catholic hospital systems, Daughters of Charity and St. Joseph Health System. All told, nearly 15,000 RNs working for Catholic chains are bargaining this spring. They will be working on achieving the same high patient care and work standards that other CNA/NNOC RNs have secured in their contracts, and also winning commitments from these Catholic chains to make it easier for their colleagues to unionize. This, too, will help build the national nurses movement. REGISTERED NURSE,™ (ISSN 1932-8966) The Journal of Patient Advocacy, April 2009 Volume 105/3 is published by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, 2000 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612-2908. It provides news of organizational activities and reports on developments of concern to all registered nurses across the nation. It also carries general coverage and commentary on matters of nursing practice, community and public health, and healthcare policy. It is published monthly except for combined issues in January and February, and July and August. Periodicals postage paid at Oakland, California. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Registered Nurse, 2000 ™ Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612-2908. To send a media release or announcement, fax (510) 6630629. Registered Nurse™ is carried on the CNA/NNOC website at For registered nurses to advocate for patients at the highest levels of power, however, more of us need to take our rightful positions as public decision makers – whether as a city councilmember, a state or national legislator, or a member on a healthcare district board. In this issue, we introduce you to a number of RNs who have taken that step of running for office, explain how they're uniquely qualified to lead, and why they say they need more RNs to join them. We know that some nurses out there are thinking, "Why do nurses have to get involved in politics? It's such a distraction. Can't we just stay focused on taking care of our patients?" The answer is no. RNs must wake up and realize that our ability to properly care for our patients is heavily influenced by politics, whether it's the dynamic of power on a unit, within a hospital, within a community, at the state level, or in Washington, D.C. Politics determines who gets to make the decisions, and as long as we RNs are shut out of calling the shots, our patients will continue to suffer. That's pretty obvious given the current sorry debate over national healthcare reform. The White House, Congress, and insurers are now cutting a deal to revamp the system, but have virtually blocked RNs and patients from joining in the discussion. As a result, their "solution" leaves insurance companies in charge. That's not reform. That's the status quo. Take a moment to read these stories and understand why now is the time for registered nurses to take charge. Our patients are depending on us. Deborah Burger, RN | Geri Jenkins, RN Malinda Markowitz, RN | Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents For permission to reprint articles, write to Editorial Office. To subscribe, send $40 ($45 foreign) to Subscription Department. California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee also produces California Nurse, which it will ™ continue to publish periodically. PLEASE CONTACT US WITH YOUR STORY IDEAS They can be about practice or management trends you've observed, or simply something new you've encountered in the profession. They can be about one nurse, unit, or hospital, or about the wider landscape of healthcare policy from an RN's perspective. They can be humorous, or a matter of life and death. If you're a writer and would like to contribute an article, please let us know. Our contact information is in the masthead. executive editor Rose Ann DeMoro editor Lucia Hwang graphic design Jonathan Wieder communications director Charles Idelson contributors Hedy Dumpel, RN, JD Donna Smith photography Jaclyn Higgs Lauren Reid

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