Last year, CNA’s (California Nurse’s Association) chief negotiator strutted proudly before packed cafeterias and conference rooms, detailing the new contract negotiated on behalf of Kaiser’s nurses. When Kaiser called it generous, they weren’t kidding. The contract includes raises without take-aways. We were to a (wo)man - thrilled.
Union membership comes with the job at Kaiser Permanente. While I labor under a brand-spanking-new contract that arguable makes me one of the highest paid nurses on the planet, I often find myself at odds with the advice and tactics of CNA.
The work stoppage of September 22nd is a good example. Twenty-two days into the newly minted contract, nurses were asked to honor a one-day work stoppage by a “sister union.”
Page 116, Article XL, Section I of said contract is entitled “No Strikes or Lockouts” and clearly states, “There shall be no strikes, lockouts or other stoppages or interruptions of work during the life of this agreement.” I found CNA’s request shocking and divisive.
“How does CNA justify calling for a work stoppage when the contract clearly states we’ve agreed to a no strike / no work stoppage clause?” I questioned the union representative who came to my workplace bearing strike literature. Her response included “past practice” and that “everybody knows you can honor another union’s strike.”
I notice no such contract verbiage. Call me simple, raised in a time that touted: your word is your bond, I do my best to uphold that creed.
On January 31, 2012 CNA once again called upon its membership to honor a one-day work stoppage. The strike literature cited a CEO raise, executive compensation plans, Kaiser profits, and the current tenor of contract negotiations underway between Kaiser and NUHW. This rhetoric incites and as it has no bearing on my contract, is not germane in my decision making process.
My union, the CNA, negotiated a contract with Kaiser Permanente - to which I am bound and beholding. That contract is a binding agreement between me and my employer. In honoring my contract, I report to work: no strikes / no work stoppages. To do less, justified with legalese and maneuvering, dishonors my word and my agreement. To do less jeopardizes the very contract under which I labor.
I am deeply grateful for the contact negotiated by CNA. I intend to honor it.
Lorin Bacon MS, RN, Acute Care NP