“I Gotta Ask?”

Have you ever needed to ask someone for something but you felt intimidated? I remember in first grade feeling terrified when I had to ask the teacher if I could use the bathroom. A lot of kids used that excuse to get out of the room during an intense session of the alphabet but I honestly liked school and I would never abuse my privilege to leave the room. Yet in those first few months I agonized whenever I had to raise my hand and ask permission to go.
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Letter To CNA Membership:

To all you RNs, LVNs and Psych-Techs of Ventura County HCA,

Well, on Jan. 5 th we finally did it. After 15 long months of bargaining with the County we have a contract. Over 80% voted yes to ratify the remainder of our agreements left on the table after our defeat in having to pick up an added 3% of our retirement contributions. Between our fight for trauma designation, a healthcare reform package that doesn’t include a public option and an economy edging out of critical condition we have done well to manage the damage and accept a three year contract that guarantees no more take-aways.

In hind-sight it is easy to look and say our negotiations team could have done this or should have done that. But, at the time we did the best we could to bargain with integrity that we could be trusted to serve the greatest good for all. In other words, there were compromises that had to be made to appease different concerns within our bargaining unit.

We have our Hospital Nurses burdened with the growing population of uninsured along with an increase of admissions, surgeries and chaos from the incoming traumas, and private insurance. We have Public Health and Clinic Nurses suiting up as our first responders dealing with community epidemics and the under-served. And, we have our Mental Health Nurses and Psyche-Techs ducking punches while doing their jobs to help the mentally ill and their families. All this adds up to a multitude of opportunities to come up with creative solutions to treat the suffering, a difficult job that takes more than a carefully worded document to build teamwork that lightens our load and lifts our spirits.

Abe Lincoln was right: “You can please some of the people some of the time…but you cannot please all of the people all of the time. “

All in all, our work has crafted our new Memorandum of Agreement that will be enacted by January 25, 2011. It will be our contract that we designed together to give us more protections to do our jobs ensuring healthcare justice, and patient advocacy with professional treatment of our members. Now it is time to brush ourselves off and work towards these goals in hopes for better working conditions and job satisfaction.

Your Trusted Nurse,
Rita Batchley RN
Chief Nurse Rep, Ventura County CNA

The Nurses Nurse Blog

The Nurses Nurse Blog
Update on Negotiations
The CNA negotiations team met on Dec. 1, 2010 at 1:00 pm to discuss a finalization of outstanding tentative agreements that could be wrapped up after the mandated retirement pick-up was imposed which left us no choice but to kick in the extra 3%. While our bargaining unit worked hard for justice we did not give up our principles of integrity, which meant fighting with dignity and sparing the County disgrace during its bid for trauma designation against SJRMC.
We rallied our argument against the retirement cuts before the Board of Supervisors on numerous occasions, strategically timing our case in order to give our whole-hearted support at City Council Meetings and public forums on why VCMC is better suited for trauma designation. We know we are the best and once we won trauma designation we thought the Board would support our initiative to recruit and maintain the best and the brightest RNs, LVNs and Psyche-Techs by approving a step system that promised future pay raises for the skills and work the different levels of the expert nursing we have throughout the Healthcare Agency.
We expected our hard work and loyalty to be recognized and the County would give us reciprocity in the form of 2.5% cuts (the same as the police and firefighters) instead of the 3%. Sadly this is not the case, but in retrospect we have no regrets because we are building trust and recognition with our community. RNs, LVNs and Psyche-techs did the right thing by writing to the newspaper and speaking out in public forums against SJRMC to get federal support for the trauma designation. We could have picketed during the hospital’s vulnerable time but we chose to wait to better serve our community rather than our own monetary concerns.
This was no mistake. Serving the greater good will prevail and the County has allowed us the opportunity to ratify the remainder of our tentative agreements that the bargaining team has worked on over the past year. In it, we have an opportunity to open up negotiations before the 3 year term is up in order to raise the Board’s awareness of recruitment and retainment issues. This could be a great avenue to create our career steps and address our recruitment problems for Santa Paula Hospital and other hard to staff areas of the Healthcare Agency.
Please take the time to clarify your questions and concerns with a negotiation team member and VOTE YES on January 5, 2011 to ratify the remainder of our outstanding contract issues. We continue to hold our heads up and be proud of the unity we built and the example of respect we hold our leaders to be accountable to.

What Does Your Recent Pay Cut Mean To You ?

Hi, I’m Rita Batchley, the Chief Nurse Rep for Ventura County and I am writing to you in order to connect because you are an RN, LVN or a Psyche-tech that currently works or has worked as a regular or per diem employee of the County. We are a diverse group that spans the Healthcare Agency within Ventura’s borders from Thousand Oaks, to the Santa Barbara line which makes it difficult to communicate the current events that affect the quality of our work life. We serve or have served the many patients that access the county’s clinics, public health, hospitals and subscribers of the Ventura County Health Care Plan. Over the past year I have been working hard along with the other members of our bargaining committee and the California Nurses Association (CNA) to prevent takeaways for our members. It’s been a tough ride navigating the current economic waters of recession, foreclosures and inflation but our group of RNs, LVNs and Psyche-techs have joined together in unprecedented ways to let the Board of Supervisors and our Management know how these cuts effect our ability to maintain recruitment and retention of the employees that seek to improve the services we provide.
Last pay period ending 10/2/10 you received a separate check issued 10/8/10 by the County because our cuts were prematurely taken and had to be reimbursed. If you did not receive your money contact your manager immediately! This amount will be the bi-weekly cut that will now remain a permanent cut due to the County’s Pension Reform Plan that was imposed on us despite the fact that our unit overwhelmingly voted against it. This unfair practice that forces us to pay almost 80% into our pension funds while police, firefighters and management (including the Board of Supervisors) only pay 2.5-3%.
Isn’t it ironic that the County can retool payroll virtually overnight to remove benefits while the Public Health Nurses have been waiting over 10 weeks to receive a 0.19 cent adjustment that was promised months ago? This is unacceptable and discriminatory. WE HAVE BEEN INVICIBLE FOR TOO LONG!!
In the light of the Bell City Council fraud in which taxpayers are mandated to pay for the sins of their voted electives: What are your thoughts on Pension Reforms? Why should a handful of bad apples spoil the whole bunch for all of us who have earned 7-12% less than those working in the private sector because we were promised a living wage for retirement.

So nurses and psyche-techs unite. Let me know what you think and what we can do to let our leadership know how we need to be treated.

Rita Batchley RN

Ventura County RNs, LVNS and Psych-techs Take Cuts

The California Nurses Association(CNA) bargaining unit for Ventura County took a big hit from the county. After a year of bargaining, the county imposed its cuts to the 500 + membership recieving retirement benefits. In a trend across the nation, state and local governments are slashing pensions in the name of reforms. But, many rank and file workers like the CNA  members believe that true reformm needs to start at the top of the heap not at the bottom. Nurses have always paid 50% or more into their retirement and get far less than safety workers who paid nothing yet reaped the greatest rewards. Now with scandolous fees being paid out to these top salaried workers nurses can’t help but ask : “Why are we footing the bill for the abuses made by the few?” More will be revealed as the county plans to balance their budget while opening expensive new clinics without the man-power to operate them. Watch the politicians squirm when there jobs come up for re-election. We nurses have long memories and we won’t forget how we’ve been treated.

It’s national hospital safety week

According to Healthleaders Media Industry Survey 2010, healthcare CEOs are less concerned about quality and patient safety this year than last year. Quality and patient safety are still the number one priorities for CEOs but areas of cost-reduction, technology systems/equipment and patient experience/satisfaction have risen as the major competitors for healthcare CEOs’ concerns. What this boils down to, is that more than ever, patients need protections to safeguard their lives whenever they are admitted to the hospitals. RNs must be vigilant as the last safety net between the doctor and what happens to the patient. To say that a medication or a procedure was given because a doctor ordered it is malpractice. If the RNs don’t follow through and research that an intervention is appropriate for their patients’ problems then that nurse is not doing their job.  

How can you have a satisfied patient if you have a bad outcome related to misappropriation of treatment? Thousands of patient continue to die each year because of errors. There needs to be more checks ad balances between the doctor and the patients receiving care.