Although Melanie Evans' recent cover story about the California Nurses Association's efforts to expand its membership base nationally perceptively touched on the dialogue between the Service Employees International Union and other nurse unions about partnering to unite nurses throughout the industry, it could have elaborated on the magnitude and historic significance of these discussions for both nurses and the labor movement at large ("Laboring for union nurses," May 23, p. 6). The SEIU's proposal that nurse unions take a united approach to organizing nurses across the country would be the first national arrangement of its kind and set the stage for groundbreaking workplace and legislative improvements for the entire profession.
The conflict between the CNA and the Illinois Nurses Association over union nurses in Cook County, Ill., is simply another indication that the time has come to take bold steps to reform the way unions in this country build strength for workers. At a time when the nation's healthcare system is in crisis and when nurses need to be united most, America's nurse unions are more divided than ever. Although approximately 500,000 registered nurses in this country are union members, their bargaining strength and, consequently, their ability to raise workplace standards, ensure high-quality patient care and improve the profession is hampered because they are divided among more than 20 individual unions.
The SEIU is committed to building strength for nurses and other healthcare workers throughout the industry. That's why we've been reaching out to the many nurse unions for more than a year and that's why we agreed to work together with the CNA in California to help nurses and other hospital employees form unions, coordinate bargaining for new contracts and advocate for public policies to improve the quality of care.
Mary Kay Henry
International executive vice president
Service Employees International Union
... nurses need to be professionals
The growth in the number of nursing unions and the number of nurses joining unions is a symptom of why nursing is not taken seriously as a profession.
There is no consideration given in this article to the fact that unions put nursing in the category of blue-collar workers, not professionals. Joining a union that has the words "service employees" in it speaks volumes.
If we want appropriate patient-to-nurse ratios, then the way to get there is through research, policy analysis and gaining positions of power. It is not through throwing one's credibility out the window by joining a collective.
Roberta Proffitt Lavin
U.S. Public Health Service
Kudos to Todd Sloane for his editorial on the obesity epidemic (A super-sized problem," May 30, p. 20). He hit the nail on the head on the magnitude of the problem, backed up by an impressive array of statistics.
In terms of formulating effective solutions, we must acknowledge that our healthcare system lacks incentives to launch an effective preventive onslaught on obesity and other lifestyle-driven problems. From the perspective of promoting optimal health, America's healthcare system is wired backwards. Resources are overwhelmingly focused on profitable high-tech interventions designed to treat latter-stage illness, as opposed to empowering our citizens to take charge of their health.
Wellness and Recovery Associates
Santa Ana, Calif.
Like that site
Thank you for having such a well-organized Web site at modernhealthcare.com. I visited it to look for an editorial calendar and information on reprints. The editorial calendar looks like it will be especially helpful.
Business development intern
Hunton & Williams