SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Culminating years of efforts to win union representation to improve patientcare, registered nurses at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica Thursday night voted by 64 percent to join the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, the state and nation's pre-eminent organization
Saint John's RNs greeted the election victory with cheers and hugs.
"This was the most wonderful, one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was harder than giving birth," said Saint John's RN Lori Hammond.
"It's so worth it," Hammond said. "The nurses have so much to look forward to. Our future is going to be so bright, for us and for the nurses that follow us for years to come."
The vote was 269 to 149, a 64 percent margin, with some 22 challenges in a hard fought secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. CNA/NNU will represent 500 RNs at the hospital which is part of the Sisters of Charity Leavenworth Health System based in Lenexa, Kan.
NNU and CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro praised the "courageous" Saint John's RNs. She noted the "excessive aggression toward the nurses for years for wanting to have rights to advocate for their patients demonstrating why nurses need a union."
Saint John's RNs began meeting with CNA/NNU representatives a few years ago to discuss their concerns with the hospital administration over a host of issues including adherence to California's landmark safe RN staffing ratio law, and substandard compensation and retirement plans for the nurses.
Citing the years of effort seeking collective representation, first with another union, and then against vociferous opposition by the hospital management, Elizabeth Baker-Wade, RN, called the vote "a huge victory for us."
"It's a victory for nurses. It's a victory for our community and patient care. It's a victory for everybody in our community who's going to come to work here, to have surgery here, to recuperate here, they're going to have excellent, improved patient care," said Baker-Wade.
"I've been here for 22 and a half years. I was born in the old St. John's," said St. John's RN Donna Schonlaw. "This was a yes vote for patients, for fair treatment, for what we've gone without for a long time. I'm happy."
"We're going to have safe patient ratios and safe staffing in the hospital, and we're going to be able to recruit and retain qualified and experienced nurses," said 10-year RN Jack Cline.
National Nurses United is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses, and one of the fastest growing labor organizations in the U.S. representing over 165,000 RNs from coast to coast
SOURCE California Nurses Association
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