Our 2014 Leadership Conference was a success!

December 8th, 2014

NUHW members gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn in Emeryville on October 11 for our second annual Leadership Conference. It was a chance to look back at the union’s accomplishments over the past year and to look ahead to new challenges in the coming year.

Videos and slideshow below.

With two hundred NUHW members in attendance, including soon-to-be members who are currently working to organize their workplaces, the gathering provided an opportunity to meet new brothers and sisters and to catch up with old friends. (Click here for a high-resolution version of the group photo.)

“It was good to see our NUHW comrades again,” said Jim Clifford, a therapist at Kaiser San Diego. “It was inspiring to meet workers from new organizing sites and see the continued interest in NUHW.”

“Great turnout,” said Elizabeth White, a psychiatric social worker at Kaiser in West Los Angeles. “Our member-driven democratic union is growing.” Both Clifford and White are leaders in NUHW’s Psych-Social chapter in Southern California and members of NUHW’s Executive Board.

After a rousing performance by Taiko Ren, the conference began with speeches from a few special guests. Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland praised the work of NUHW and thanked members for their support over the years before accepting NUHW’s Justice & Democracy Award. NUHW attorney and Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel then addressed the group, followed by Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who gave an impassioned speech in support of NUHW members’ efforts to hold Kaiser accountable for its failing mental health services. For her own extraordinary efforts on behalf of mental health patients, Zane was honored with NUHW’s Patient Advocacy Award.

NUHW President Sal Rosselli then emceed the State of the Union presentation based on the conference’s theme, “Building the Model Union.” It was a town-hall-style session during which members and stewards from workplaces throughout the state spoke about the building blocks that constitute a model union:

Democracy
Workplace organization
Training and development
Research
Patient Advocacy
New Organizing
Communications
Political action/COPE

Following a lunch provided by members of Unite HERE local 2850, the conference reconvened to discuss, revise, and ratify a resolution (see below) by which NUHW leaders established the union’s principles and goals for the following year.

Leadership Conference Book WEB-1

Click the image above to read the 2014 State of the Union booklet.

“This second leadership conference was, in terms of participation, more diverse,” said Porfirio Quintano, an environmental services aide at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. “There were new rank-and-file members who asked questions about matters that concern all of us. They proposed more ideas to continue building our model union. I like it because that’s the union and worker power that we have been talking about. Regarding our political agenda, I hope NUHW will continue structuring an educational plan to engage more rank-and-file members and therefore elect more of NUHW’s friends.”

“The conference was terrific,” said Clem Papazian, a psychiatric social worker at Kaiser Oakland and president of NUHW’s Integrated Behavioral Health Services chapter in Northern California. “I was impressed with the passion and commitment of the speakers and thought the focus on different components of building a model union was quite clarifying. I’m also routinely amazed at the range of workplaces NUHW represents.”

“Each conference has reminded me powerfully that we are a growing union that represents every sector of people working in health care,” said Herb Klar, a retired Kaiser Pleasanton psychiatric social worker. “Every conference inspires my hopes for our members, our union and the prospects for democratic trade unionism.”

“It was an inspiring opportunity to connect with our committed sisters and brothers across California,” said Turusew Gebedu-Wilson, a Kaiser dietician. “We have come a long way and the movement to build and strengthen our model union continues.”

2014 Leadership Conference Resolution

WHEREAS, The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) was founded to ensure that workers are empowered in a member-led, democratic union that stands up both for workers and patients; and

WHEREAS, Since its founding, NUHW has successfully bargained contracts and won standards for workers and patients; and

WHEREAS, NUHW has exposed healthcare corporations for putting profits ahead of providing appropriate care for their patients; and

WHEREAS, NUHW’s efforts to improve patient care have resulted in benefitting workers and patients alike in increased staffing, improved access and higher quality patient care; and

WHEREAS, NUHW has organized thousands of non-union workers into our union, achieving first-time contracts that include high standards for workers and patients; therefore, be it RESOLVED,

That the 2014 NUHW Leadership Conference will strive to build the model union by:

• rededicating ourselves to our union’s democratic values, which requires continued transparency in all our actions and maintaining an informed membership

• rededicating ourselves to our union’s watchdog role by advocating for quality patient care, patient and worker safety, and ethical practices on the part of healthcare corporations

• developing our leaders through training, mentorship and outreach, and by organizing, educating, and empowering frontline caregivers to take leadership roles in our member-driven union

• expanding our influence by developing our political action program, educating our members on the role of politics in our work and on issues and candidates, and engaging our members in the political process

• utilizing the political process to achieve health care for all and justice and equality for workers and their families

• continuing to strategically organize non-union healthcare workers and other workers trapped in ineffective, undemocratic unions

• continuing to bargain strong contracts that maintain or improve standards for patients and workers

• supporting workers with any issues that are widely and deeply felt within the membership

• innovation in all aspects of our work including the use of technology