UNAC/UHCP History: 1980s

1980s: Our union grew beyond registered nurses in its second decade

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1980: Registered nurses at Pettis Memorial join UNAC.

The election was won in January and the affiliate was at the table in September. The group had five officers, including Nora Covell, RN, whose role was “Ways and Means.” UNAC’s Tom Robertson assisted the affiliate officers at bargaining.

One of the issues in these early days was a rotating shift schedule.

1980: UNAC changed the constitution to include other health care professionals.

After facing legal delays due to some all-nurse groups who voted to join UNAC, our union expanded membership in the constitution to add “other Medical Care Professionals.”

1980: The registered nurses of UNAC strike again at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California.

Chief Negotiator Sonia Moseley, RNP, won an incredible agreement after a strike that lasted nearly a month. At issue was quality patient care and fair and equitable compensation.

Nearly 2,000 nurses at Kaisers Sunset (clinic), Harbor City, Fontana, Bellflower, and Panorama City went on strike for 28 days after the employer tried to institute a two-tier pay scale where clinic nurses would be paid less than hospital nurses.

1982: Registered nurses at Kaiser Mental Health Facility vote to join UNAC.

These nurses are accreted into the Kaiser Sunset affiliate, now called Kaiser Los Angeles.

1983: Registered nurses and physician assistants from Kaiser San Diego join UNAC/UHCP.

The San Diego RNs and PAs voted to join UNAC in an election in 1981. For nearly two years, the fate of he group was in limbo until the NLRB dismissed remaining objections in 1983. The bargaining surveys were immediately mailed and bargaining started soon thereafter.

1984: UNAC opens the first UNAC office in San Diego.

Called the San Diego district office for years, this Mission Road office was established in 1984 and fêted with an open house on February 14, 1985.

1985: Kaiser Woodland Hills joins UNAC.

Established in 1985, when the Kaiser Woodland Hills Medical Center opened in 1986, it was only a matter of time. A ballot vote took place in January 16, 1987. Affiliate officers were quickly elected. Called a “spin-off” of Kaiser Panorama City, many nurses from Panorama City transferred to the new medical center.

UNAC Members Vote to Join National Union, NUHHCE

1987: UNAC joins NUHHCE and gains AFL-CIO recognition.

When the UNAC membership voted to join the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees (NUHHCE) in April 1987, it was a pivotal moment for our union. With the larger nationwide union, we unlocked access to education, contract analysis, research, lobbying and organizing.

The roots of NUHHCE go back to 1932, when a group of pharmacists founded the Pharmacists Union of Greater New York. In 1936, the Pharmacists Union joined the American Federation of Labor (AF of L) and acquired the name, Local 1199.

NUHHCE fought for the civil rights of health care workers as early as 1936, the year of a Harlem strike that lasted seven bitter winter weeks and was waged for the right of African-Americans to work as pharmacists in Harlem drug stores. Later, in 1958, the national union went to bat for hospital workers who were almost forgotten people. There was no minimum wage law, no unemployment insurance, no disability benefits, no collective-bargaining rights and virtually no job protection. It was, in fact, illegal for hospital workers to join a Union. Hospital workers went on strike for more than 100 days across two strikes in 1959 and 1962. A settlement was finally reached when Nelson Rockefeller, then Governor of New York, made a public commitment to secure the passage of a law giving collective-bargaining rights to hospital workers.

In October 1984, the National Union received a direct charter from the AFL-CIO and became the only health care union with such a charter.

1988: At long last, St. Francis registered nurses are certified, joining UNAC after more than a decade of legal wrangling.

The registered nurses of St. Francis never gave up. The unit, caught up in a fight about whether or not registered nurses alone could be a union on their own, eventually went all the way up the Supreme Court of the United States, where justices declined to hear the case, leaving intact the lower court’s ruling. The nurses fought for nearly 12 years in what to finally UNAC/UHCP President Kathy Sackman, RN, called “a long-running horror show” to become a UNAC affiliate. The first contract for this group was ratified in 1989.

UNAC/NUHHCE members vote to join AFSCME

Pictured above, standing, Paul Booth, AFSCME, and Maryann Miller, RN,  UNAC Secretary; seated Kathy Sackman, RN, UNAC President, Henry Nicholas, NUHHCE President and Sonia Moseley, RNP, UNAC Executive Vice President.

1989: In an effort to multiply our power and grow the union, NUHHCE affiliated with the 1.2 million members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).