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First Unionized Hospital in Texas
Date:3/29/2008

Cypress Fairbanks Hospital, Houston RNs Vote to Join Nation's Largest RN

Organization

HOUSTON, March 29 /PRNewswire/ -- In a dramatic breakthrough for the aspirations of Texas registered nurses to have a stronger voice to speak out for patients and themselves, a northwest Houston hospital Friday night became the first hospital in Texas to win union collective bargaining rights.

RNs at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital voted 119 to 111 to affiliate with NNOC Texas -- Texas affiliate of the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, the largest and fastest growing organization of RNs in the nation.

The election was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. NNOC Texas will represent nearly 300 RNs at the hospital.

"Finally our voice will be heard," said Josie Jupio, RN. "This victory of the nurses' unity will bring a change for the better, impacting patient care, improving the benefits and assuring an open door policy that is fair to all."

"This is indeed a victory for all patients, and all the staff providing care for them," said Jeanette Thornhill, RN.

NNOC/CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said the "stunning victory changes the face of healthcare in Texas, and will send shockwaves across the country, especially in states where no or only a few RNs are represented."

"It sends a clarion message to those RNs, a hope that they too can overcome the odds and band together to improve the quality of care at the bedside and change forever the standards for themselves and their colleagues," DeMoro said.

Part of that message is the impressive momentous growth of NNOC/CNA. In the past decade, CNA/NNOC has grown by more than 375 percent. Since 2001, CNA/NNOC has gained more than 30,000 new members, including 6,200 in the past 100 days. Nationally NNOC/CNA has 80,000 members in all 50 states, and represents RNs in union hospitals in California, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and now Texas.

While Cypress Fairbanks, part of the Tenet Healthcare system, is the first hospital where the RNs will be covered by a union contract, NNOC Texas has spread its roots far and wide in Texas with members and hospital committees from El Paso to Dallas to Austin to Brownsville to San Antonio.

"Texas RNs have shown courage and determination to fight for their rights and their patients," said David Johnson, Director of Organizing of NNOC/CNA. "Their commitment helped lay the groundwork for tonight's breakthrough victory for safe patient care and RN power in Texas, and for many more such victories to come."

"The intensity to which the nurses were involved on this historic achievement demonstrates that Texas will never be the same," DeMoro said. "There is something about these nurses that should give hope to patients in Texas and nurses across the nation. We plan on working quickly with Tenet Healthcare, as we have in the past to achieve an agreement that works best for the patients of Texas."

"Union means unity for the good of all, especially our patients who are the cause we are here for," said Cypress Fairbanks RN Purita Reyes.

Chris Williams, RN, noted the proximity of the election date with the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Williams called the civil rights movement and the union movement the nation's "two most progressive movements. We nurses at CyFair will try to expand upon (Dr. King's) vision with respect to patient care in Texas."

Statewide, Texas/NNOC has more than 2,000 activists who have also been busy campaigning to pass legislation to establish minimum RN-to-patient staffing ratios, based on a California law where the ratios have improved care and helped reduce the nursing shortage, and establish legal protections for RNs' ability to advocate for patients.

NNOC Texas has held major rallies for the bill on the steps of the Capitol in Austin and outside the Alamo in San Antonio, and hosted workshops across the state.

In Houston, NNOC Texas has been a presence since 2005 when hundreds of NNOC/CNA members arrived from around the country to provide disaster relief in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Following Katrina, NNOC/CNA members formed the largest support group of RNs in the Harris County relief operation at the Astrodome.

"The Cypress Fairbanks story was written in the Astrodome, on the steps of the Capitol, in education workshops, in gatherings of nurses at their homes and in hospital break rooms, in nurses throughout Texas meeting each other and understanding how collectively they could transform the state and themselves," DeMoro said.

"Cypress Fairbanks is all of that and more," she said. "Texas RNs have crossed a historic bridge, and will never look back."


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SOURCE National Nurses Organizing Committee
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