Member Blog: Now is the Time for Involvement in the Legislative Process

Member Blog: Now is the Time for Involvement in the Legislative Process

Note: the below is the opinion of the signed authors.

MNA Members, thank you for your service to your fellow members and communities. The work you do is essential to advancing the mission of the Minnesota Nurses Association and having a positive impact on the patients we serve.

As you know, working within our political system is a natural extension of our mission.  Through this work, we have been able to realize many of our priorities including

  • Fending off Right to Work legislation
  • Ratifying the contracts of our State of Minnesota nurse coworkers
  • Passing workplace violence legislation
  • Ensuring workers compensation coverage for nurses who contract COVID-19 at work
  • Defending our licensure standards by defeating the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact
  • Passing the Safe Patient Handling Program statute requiring all health care facilities to have written patient handling policies to reduce workplace injuries

At this year’s House of Delegates, we will be considering a resolution (R1: Political Independence and Power for MNA) barring MNA from endorsing, supporting, or contributing money, labor, or support to candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties. This motion will effectively remove MNA from the realm of politics and close the door on any substantive impact we could have on legislation.

We feel this would be a hindrance to building nurse power and advancing our legislative priorities. We believe now is the time to increase our involvement in the legislative process and encourage our co-workers to raise their voices and drive the changes we wish to see in our workplaces and communities. Nurses have been told, face-to-face, at the bargaining tables that there are issues our employers will not negotiate, including staffing. This leaves nurses no avenues except the legislature, the Governor’s office, and even the city councils to use our power to elect candidates who agree staffing solutions are overdue if patients are to be cared for safely. Over the last ten years, nurses have become an even more respected voice with our elected leaders, which we can see by their appointment on state boards and committees. Nurses and MNA leaders have been at the table to help shape policy for COVID-19, drug affordability, and healthcare reform.

We hope you will join us as we talk to your fellow MNA members about opposing Resolution 1: Political Independence and Power for MNA and help us work to build nurse-driven power that brings lasting changes to our workplaces and communities.

Thank you.

Bernadine (Bunny) Engeldorf, 1st Vice President, MNA Board of Directors

Doreen McIntyre, 2nd Vice President, MNA Board of Directors

Jennifer Michelson, Secretary, MNA Board of Directors

Sandie Anderson, Treasurer, MNA Board of Directors

Chris Rubesch, Director, MNA Board of Directors

Susan Kreitz, Director, MNA Board of Directors

Laurie Bahr, Director, MNA Board of Directors

Mary McGibbon, Director, MNA Board of Directors

Gail Olson, Director, MNA Board of Directors

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Whose legislative priorities, the handful of people named or the majority of mna members??? The majority rules in a democracy, deciding the rules, prerogatives and goals of an organization and or country, whereas a chosen few decide in a dictatorship cabal such as the mna seems to be. So vote to keep the mna out of politics and force the mna leadership to do their job of representing the members of the mna in negotiating better pay and worksite safety and conditions for its members or kick them out of office and get a leadership that cares more for the members and keeps their political views to themselves.
    Sincerely
    The old ER RN

  2. I support resolution 1: Political Independence and Power for MNA. It’s about time we spend our time and money building our own power and not theirs, politicians take us for granted, and we get little back. Power and change come from below, not above. Politicians continue to let us down, we still don’t have enough PPE, nurses are getting laid off, hospitals are closing/downsizing. We need to be dismantling this unjust system, not enabling it.
    -Tricia Ryshkus, RN
    Children’s Mpls

  3. As the author of the resolution I want to thank the Board members for giving us the platform to define what the current political vision for MNA is today, access if that strategy has worked for MNA and the labor movement, and what our role in government should be.The position of this blog piece is illuminating and should be contrasted with the actual language of the resolution here:http://wdtw.org/stories/2020/7/4/draft-resolution-political-independence-and-power-for-the-minnesota-nurses-associationIf we agree with the authors opposing political independence and power, our entire role in governmental affairs is based on giving money and labor to politicians. Its a subordinate role for MNA that plays to our weakness as a union and assumes that change can only be created by ingratiating ourselves with the political class. As a consequence, MNA is donating time and labor to the same political organizations that the CEOs of the major hospital systems are.Of course this ignores the entire history of the labor movement that has been full of organizing, strikes, marches and actions that generated actually political power and that drove the major gains in our workplaces and in government for generations. The resolution does not, as the opposition claims, stop us from lobbying, picketing, meeting with politicians, having protests, forums, or any other means to influence politics. It just stops the money flow to the two dominant political parties and opens the door for us to build our own political party and effort for working people.If any years has demonstrated the need for building power of the frontline RNs, it has been 2020. The Resolution for Political Power and Independence for MNA will help lead that effort, remove us from our current subordinate role in legislation, and open the door to union leadership and initiative.Excited to see you all at the delegate conference Monday. Let’s make it one for the history books.

  4. The resolution is ridiculous. It assumes that MNA has the ability to build a workers party. Seriously? What organizing efforts have taken place so far that would allow for this leap? Has the author talked with other leaders of the affiliates of the AFL-CIO? AFSCME? SPFE? SEIU? The start of building relations starts by electing the right people and if we cannot use our collective power to do so, then we are weak. The reason why we haven’t passed staffing in over a decade isn’t because of the politicians – its because of us. We aren’t engaged in the process. We aren’t organized to build the power that is needed to do something so large and meaningful.

    I hope the House of Delegates votes this down.

    Tamara, RN

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