By Megan Gavin
MNA Education Specialist
Somebody described an excellent MNA chairperson like an octopus with arms everywhere reaching out to nurses and solving problems. As the highest level of MNA leadership within facilities, the MNA chairperson is the lifeblood of our organization. While MNA chairs do a hundred things before breakfast, their most important role is to ensure representation of bargaining unit members. Chairs facilitate the LMC process, negotiating with management throughout the duration of the contract. When members have complaints or concerns, it’s the chair who will hear first; it’s the chair who bears the brunt of frustrations; and they also lend a shoulder to cry on while listening to a nurse’s heart-breaking circumstances. Chairs mentor, coach, and teach. Chairs are confident, flexible, assertive advocates, who demonstrate patience, passion, and resilience. They do all of this on top of their daily jobs of saving lives and restoring health.
Last week MNA hosted a two-day MNA chairperson retreat. We were lucky to have a great group of 47 MNA chairs, who represented a fantastic range of our MNA leadership; chairs were here from 27 different facilities and 16 cities across our region. MNA members from the north we were represented by their union leaders from Bemidji, Duluth, Hibbing, Virginia, and Deer River. The west and the south were here as well, representing nurses from Lake City, Red Wing, Owatonna, Willmar, and Winona. Minnesota chairs from Shakopee, Cambridge, Buffalo, and Wyoming joined in the fun as well. Oh, and a number of chairs from Saint Paul and Minneapolis made it too.
We welcomed in many newly elected chairs, some of whom won their elections mere months ago. It was great to see the newer folks get to work with and learn from chairs who have been serving in their leadership roles for over 20 years.
Unions are powerful organizations that promote and advance the holistic well-being of workers. Still. unions are only powerful if true leaders emerge with vision for how to grow and improve and thrive. Having had the pleasure of working with so many of the elected leaders of this organization, I feel very encouraged that the state of this union is strong indeed.
We want all our workshops to be dynamic, to bring stewards and members from facilities together to discuss challenges and to brainstorm solutions to the difficulties we all face. Take a look at our courses over the next few months and sign up to join us. Then convince three, four, or ten of your friends to come along as well. It will be more enjoyable, and we’ll all learn more! https://mnnurses.org/events/calendar/