First Unionized Hospital in Texas

Sunday, March 30, 2008 General News
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HOUSTON, March 29 In a dramatic breakthrough for theaspirations of Texas registered nurses to have a stronger voice to speak outfor patients and themselves, a northwest Houston hospital Friday night becamethe first hospital in Texas to win union collective bargaining rights.

RNs at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital voted 119 to 111 toaffiliate with NNOC Texas -- Texas affiliate of the National Nurses OrganizingCommittee/California Nurses Association, the largest and fastest growingorganization of RNs in the nation.

The election was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. NNOCTexas will represent nearly 300 RNs at the hospital.

"Finally our voice will be heard," said Josie Jupio, RN. "This victory ofthe nurses' unity will bring a change for the better, impacting patient care,improving the benefits and assuring an open door policy that is fair to all."

"This is indeed a victory for all patients, and all the staff providingcare for them," said Jeanette Thornhill, RN.

NNOC/CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said the "stunning victorychanges the face of healthcare in Texas, and will send shockwaves across thecountry, especially in states where no or only a few RNs are represented."

"It sends a clarion message to those RNs, a hope that they too canovercome the odds and band together to improve the quality of care at thebedside and change forever the standards for themselves and their colleagues,"DeMoro said.

Part of that message is the impressive momentous growth of NNOC/CNA. Inthe past decade, CNA/NNOC has grown by more than 375 percent. Since 2001,CNA/NNOC has gained more than 30,000 new members, including 6,200 in the past100 days. Nationally NNOC/CNA has 80,000 members in all 50 states, andrepresents RNs in union hospitals in California, Illinois, Maine, Nevada,Pennsylvania, and now Texas.

While Cypress Fairbanks, part of the Tenet Healthcare system, is the firsthospital where the RNs will be covered by a union contract, NNOC Texas hasspread its roots far and wide in Texas with members and hospital committeesfrom El Paso to Dallas to Austin to Brownsville to San Antonio.

"Texas RNs have shown courage and determination to fight for their rightsand their patients," said David Johnson, Director of Organizing of NNOC/CNA."Their commitment helped lay the groundwork for tonight's breakthrough victoryfor safe patient care and RN power in Texas, and for many more such victoriesto come."

"The intensity to which the nurses were involved on this historicachievement demonstrates that Texas will never be the same," DeMoro said."There is something about these nurses that should give hope to patients inTexas and nurses across the nation. We plan on working quickly with TenetHealthcare, as we have in the past to achieve an agreement that works best forthe patients of Texas."

"Union means unity for the good of all, especially our patients who arethe cause we are here for," said Cypress Fairbanks RN Purita Reyes.

Chris Williams, RN, noted the proximity of the election date with the 40thanniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Williams calledthe civil rights movement and the union movement the nation's "two mostprogressive movements. We nurses at CyFair will try to expand upon (Dr.King's) vision with respect to patient care in Texas."

Statewide, Texas/NNOC has more than 2,000 activists who have also beenbusy campaigning to pass legislation to establish minimum RN-to-patientstaffing ratios, based on a California law where the ratios have improved careand helped reduce the nursing shortage, and establish legal protections forRNs' ability to advocate for patients.

NNOC Texas has held major rallies for the bill on the steps of the Capitolin Austin and outside the Alamo in San Antonio, and hosted workshops acrossthe state.



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