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Mona O'Shea, P.E.I. Nurses' Union president
As president of the P.E.I. Nurse’s Union, I am writing in response to the Oct. 17 opinion letter Summerside entitled “Union position can be confusing”.
The letter writer stated he doesn’t know a great deal about unions “except when they are in the news” and wanted to know who unions represent. There does seem to be a general lack of awareness and misconceptions about what unions do and the good that has arisen out of the union movement.
Unions advocate on behalf of working people in many different ways — from organizing campaigns and rallies, to lobbying provincial and federal politicians, to speaking out in the media and to business on key issues, to representing P.E.I. and Canada’s labour movement, to developing partnerships with the community and other supportive groups. A union’s goal is to protect workers’ rights that have been hard fought for throughout the years.
That includes decent wages, healthy and safe workplaces, fair labour laws, equality rights, dignity in retirement, a sustainable environment and respect for basic human rights. Unions are a positive force for democratic social change and for a better economy.
There were 21,200 union members working on P.E.I. in 2012, which equates to 34 per cent of all employees. Their weekly payroll of over $19.8 million accounted for 44 per cent of the total for the whole province.
On average, unionized workers in this province earned $8.71/hour more than non-union employees which translated into $6.5 million more every week paid into local economies to support local businesses and community services.
The P.E.I. Nurses’ Union, in particular, was established in 1987 and now represents over 1,200 registered nurses and nurse practitioners across P.E.I. The P.E.I. Nurses’ Union advocates for safe staff-patient care in all health care settings in the province, as well as fair working conditions in an effort to protect members and the health and well-being of all Islanders.
PEINU also belongs to the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions (CFNU) which is a national voice for nurses, campaigning to improve the working conditions for nurses and the quality of patient care. CFNU takes a strong stand to protect and enhance Canada's public health-care system.
Together, we also campaign in solidarity with the P.E.I. Health Coalition and other organizations, such as Canadian Labour Congress and the International Council of Nurses, to assist in advancing the rights of workers and women, in Canada and around the world.
By Mona O’Shea
Mona O’Shea, RN, is president of the P.E.I. Nurses’ Union