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GSRMC Bargaining Update: Second Ratification Vote

Click on the following links to read about the second ratification vote or scroll down to read them all:

New Ratification Vote

WHAT: "New In Person Vote on the Contract
WHEN: Thursday February 18, 2010, 7:00am—8:00pm
WHERE: Conference Room HP - Main Floor
ABSENTEE BALLOT? Contact an RN Bargaining Team member for an absentee ballot.

A Vote on GRSMC Tentative Agreement In Line with History

To my RN colleagues:

This last Thursday February 4, 2010 your ONA leadership held a vote on a recommended tentative agreement for a new contract. For those who requested an absentee ballot, we included language for the NO vote which read that a NO vote was also authorizing the team to file a 10 day notice for a strike. This language is consistent with language we had on our ballots in 2005 and 2007. The purpose of the strike authorization language was to give your ONA negotiating team some real leverage at the negotiating table to seek a better deal if the agreement was rejected. Without a collective commitment to take action, we are left with a NO vote, with only the tools of rhetoric to persuade the employer to give us something more. Rhetoric is not enough at this juncture in negotiations.

Nonetheless, after receiving concerns that the language of the absentee ballot for the NO option included the strike authorization language, we responded by eliminating that language for the in-house vote, which meant two ballots with different language. While this was in no way an attempt to direct the outcome, we believe that the only way we can move forward together is to conduct a re-vote with consistent language.

Throughout our bargaining, we have sought to engage and inform ONA members. We have initiated collective activities including sticker-wearing, a petition drive, come to a bargaining session, and a vote to authorize informational picketing. These activities have enjoyed some participation, but not at the level which provides us any leverage at the negotiating table.

Fewer than 50% of the unit signed the petition. Only 23% of the bargaining unit participated in the vote to authorize informational picketing. And, of those who participated in that vote, only 7 nurses offered a firm commitment to picket. This level of commitment does not clearly demonstrate the willingness of our bargaining unit to seek a better deal. 

We believe we have an obligation to clearly lay out the options and consequences of a YES or NO vote. We also remain committed to honor the will of the bargaining unit. Therefore, we have scheduled another vote for February 18, 2010. The ballot will have consistent language for both in-person and absentee votes, and that language will spell out what a YES and NO vote mean. 

We greatly appreciate the support and honest expression of concerns by bargaining unit members. This bargaining unit and this contract are ours together; we all enjoy responsibility to steward it and assure we maintain a democratic, active and transparent organization.


Debbie Snelling,
ONA GSRMC Bargaining Unit Chair

Contract Tentative Agreement Will Be Voted Again, Former Chair Oakes Agrees

GSRMC Nurses will have another opportunity to vote on the Tentative Agreement for a new contract. After absentee ballots were sent with language which was consistent with contract vote ballots in 2005 and 2007, concerns were expressed that the language was too directive.

The NO option included language authorizing the ONA Team to file a 10 day notice for a strike. In response, the strike authorization language was eliminated for in-person ballots. But, as correctly identified by several members the language was now inconsistent.

Bargaining Unit Chair Sheryl Oakes-Caddy, who had expressed concerns, remarked, "My main concern is a consistent process and a re-vote is the right thing to do to eliminate any questions. Further, I believe it very important that our team provide on the ballot what in their estimation are the consequences of each vote, including authorizing collective activity.”

To correct this circumstance and alleviate concerns about the process, a new vote has been scheduled for February 18, 2010.

We Take a Second Ratification Vote on February 18: Make Your Vote Count!

The language used on the absentee ballots was the exact same language that had been used on the 2007 ratification ballot; in fact, we used the 2007 ballot as a model for this year’s ballots. The text "I vote to reject the offer and authorize the bargaining team for a 10 day strike notice” is standard ballot language, and was not a departure from how we have conducted ratification votes in the past. This text is included so that nurse members are aware of the likely consequences of their vote, and is provided in the spirit of full disclosure and to ensure an informed vote on the part of all nurse members.

We heard from nurse members who were voting absentee that they felt this language could be perceived as coercive or threatening and were worried that it might skew the vote. As a direct result of this feedback, your bargaining unit leaders made the decision to remove that language from the "on site” ballots as we wanted to avoid any miscommunication or perception of coercion. Let us be clear: we removed the language from the on-site ballot as a direct result of the feedback we received from nurse members; As a result of this decision to listen to the concerns of our members, nurses participated in a ratification vote with two different ballots. We want all of our members to know that the change to the on-site ballot was meant to address the concerns that had been brought to our attention….nothing more.
We think it did; our calculation of the votes indicates that the two different ballots had different outcomes, generally speaking: Of the on-site voters, 151 RNs voted yes and 122 voted no. This is an approximate 5:4 ratio. Of the absentee voters, 55 RNs voted yes and 19 voted no. This is an approximate 3:1 ratio.

The results of the two different ballots seem to indicate that when RNs were not fully informed of the consequences of a NO vote (ie…when they voted with the on-site ballots without the extra language) more RNs voted NO. When nurses members were informed of the potential consequences of a NO vote (ie…received the absentee ballots that included the language), more RNs voted YES.

Let's be clear: A better TA will take more than a no vote!

The tentative agreement we are voting on include the best terms that our RN team felt they could reach at the table without more pressure by the RN staff on management. On 1/17 we held a vote to hold an informational picket. While the vote resulted in an overwhelming majority in favor of the info picket, only 23% of the RNs voted and only 7 RNs signed up to actually walk the picket line.
This is simply not enough to gain the leverage required to move management to better terms. If RNs want to vote to reject the TA, the RN team and ONA staff respect that and are ready and willing to fight for more. The question is this: is the RN membership ready to engage in the fight for more?

Our Bargaining Unit leadership, and ONA staff, have heard your concerns. We want to ensure, without a shadow of a doubt, that all nurses have a chance to vote on the TA and have their voices heard. ONA is committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that our nurse members feel confident in the vote, and in the voting process: no question about it. As a result, we are going to hold another vote, utilizing ballots with identical language.

Those ballots will include language that helps to clarify what the outcome of a NO vote would be (specifically in terms of what kinds of concerted activities would be necessary to get any improvements in the contract). The ballots will be the same for everyone, clearly defining the consequences of a yes and no vote. The ballot will also contain language explaining to RNs what types of concerted activity we will have to engage in if we want a stronger contract (if they vote no to reject the tentative agreement).

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