By Megan Gavin
MNA Education Specialist
Why you should use some of your precious free time to attend an MNA education session
In the 1960s it was common practice for hospitals to charge nurses for breaking hospital property, which included glass vials of medication. Frustrated by low pay and practices such as this, a group of nurses successfully organized their co-workers to challenge this policy. Today the breakage clause, which states “it is not the policy of the hospital to charge nurses for breakage,” is one of the oldest sections in MNA contracts.
MNA has more than hundred years of history to learn from, ideas to copy, and people to emulate. Our past is our strength. We can strengthen our bargaining units today by sharing our knowledge with one another to build a healthy future for nurses in Minnesota and the greater Midwest.
As a labor union and a professional association, MNA offers a Continuing Education Program with free education sessions on a wide range of topics from Nursing Practice, to Labor Advocacy, Leadership Training, and Mobilizing and Public Engagement.
We know that labor unions are concerned with contracts and members’ working conditions. Is safe staffing a working condition? Is an LPN doing an RN’s work a working condition? Is being denied a request for additional staff when your unit is short a working condition? Yes. Yes. And yes! Nursing practice issues are indivisible from labor concerns: nursing practice is a labor issue.
If we want strong and effective bargaining units we need the best among us to lead. The Labor Advocacy, Steward & Leadership Training classes are suited for any member who wants to know more about MNA as an organization, including the nuts and bolts of the legal rights afforded to union members. We welcome all members who are curious about becoming more involved or taking your own leadership to the next level.
We know that we cannot only focus on what happens within MNA facilities because broader political, economic, and social systems have profound consequences on the public’s health and well-being. Nurses must lead on issues as disparate as earned sick time, parental leave, environmental protection, and access to high quality, affordable health care as all these issues support a healthy, just society.
Each month we offer a full day of steward training at the MNA office, and another full day of classes from the other categories. Each month we also bring a full day of classes to Greater Minnesota. This year we’ve conducted workshops in Austin, Alexandria, Mankato, and Hudson, Wisconsin. At the end of April, we’ll be in Bemidji and Brainerd. Fifty-one nurses came to the education sessions in Mankato alone. Here’s what they said afterwards:
- “I loved the contract scavenger hunt exercise!”
- “I need more nurses I work with to attend training on Unsafe Assignments!”
- “(the instructor) was incredibly knowledgeable and engaging, as well as open to comments and questions. “
- “Her use of humor was fantastic; time went by fast.”
The only suggestions for improvements asked that we lengthen the time frame.
To find the dates, times and locations, and register for an upcoming MNA session click the calendar. You do have to register, because we will cancel sessions with a low registration.
Finally, you should use some of your precious free time to attend an MNA education session because:
- They aren’t boring.
- The worst thing about the classes is that they aren’t long enough.
- You might learn something cool.
- You will not be graded.
- There are no essays.
- You will get to talk about work issues with fellow nurses.
- You can compare notes with nurses from other management systems.
- Free dinner and caffeine.
- Free nursing contact hours.
- The topics address your work, your profession, and the policy issues that affect our lives.
And how did that group of nurses in 1966 get the hospitals to stop deducting broken vials from their paychecks? Excellent question! Sign up for a class and find out!