I, and your 2,000 co-members, welcome you to our strong and vibrant union!
You have joined a group of professional health care workers who in October of 2002, after fighting for a real voice in their own profession, won a resounding right to that voice by a 2:1 margin. We continue to organize on every unit and throughout the hospital to ensure that we have safe staffing, healthy working environments, and that we all Put Patients First.
You, as a union member, are legally recognized to have specific rights and protections that you would otherwise not have as an “at will” employee. This protection comes in many forms and is outlined in your union contract. Our first union contract was one of the best health care ‘first contracts’ in the country, and through collective bargaining and an active membership, we have continued to improve upon it.
Should it be necessary at any time, you have the right to have union representation with you in disciplinary meetings, and to a fair and methodical grievance process. Your member colleagues have won many successes through the grievance process, from fighting unfair discipline to effecting change in unhealthy work sites. Perhaps most importantly, you now have a right to bring your voice into your workplace, and have your voice make a difference.
Health care professionals are held in extremely high regard by the community at large, and we take that honor very seriously. We give back to the community we love and serve through health care screening clinics, disaster relief both here at home or in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and extending our clinical and support services wherever else we can.
VFNHP plays an active role in advancing state and federal legislation on issues important to us and to our patients. We were instrumental in the passage of a Whistleblower Protection Bill in Vermont, and we worked on a bill banning Mandatory Overtime for all Vermont health care workers, despite the fact that we have already secured that protection in our contract.
VFNHP has been very active in Vermont’s healthcare reform process to ensure that we continue to have the tools we need to best serve our community, and that all Vermonters will be able to access quality, affordable health care well into the future.
Our work together has not only improved staffing levels dramatically, it has improved retention providing continuity of care and maintaining a level of expertise in our workplace that is second to none. Our work as a union has also improved the quality of care we deliver, in part, through an innovative program called the Model Unit Process, which was developed by our union and negotiated with Fletcher Allen.
It is important to remember that each of us, together, are our union.
Each one of us, when we organize and work together, can bring real, lasting, positive change. We have done so together since our union was formed and we will continue to do so everyday.
Welcome to the team!
Laurie Aunchman RN, VFNHP President