“It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die. ‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there, beyond the sky.”
The above quote comes from the classic, soulful tune, A Change is Gonna Come. If this quote would be separated into three segments, I envision each segment as a reflection of the current state the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA). Let me explain.
It’s been too hard living...
District Three, ONA’s membership number has declined and been stagnant for the last few years. The waning can be attributed to hospital closings, fewer residents living in the area and retiring nurses. Further, as registered nurses retire, they pay significantly discounted dues, if in fact they elect to remain ONA members.
It has become a challenge, with rising costs, to continue to provide the level of professional and community services that the District has provided to members and to the community for the last one hundred years. The astute financial oversight and guidance of the Executive Director, in concert with the vigilant work of the Board of Directors and committee membership, has allowed ‘business as usual’ (but on a smaller scale) for District Three.
Ohio Nurses Association as a whole is faced with a myriad of difficulties in its operations, not the least of which are a complex dues structure and many smaller districts struggling to survive.
In October 2015, at the ONA House of Delegates (HOD), District Three submitted a proposal to re-structure ONA using regions instead of the district concept. A transition into a regional concept would allow a shift in boundaries, and consolidation of districts (counties), to equalize membership, increase visibility and participation and provide for a more equal voice for all members. Such action was meant to decrease the cost for members to belong to ONA, resulting in a more attractive, streamlined, effective and affordable organization.
But I’m afraid to die...
As a means to address the proposal, ONA formulated the Dues and Governance Task Force, whose charge is to design a new model for service delivery. ONA members representing all areas of the state serve on the task force.
The concept of moving to regions was examined. The question of how the regional map would be divided with equitable demarcations was not solved before another concept appeared. The regional concept was replaced with language of satellites. The state would divide into four satellites. Each satellite would be staffed with ONA personnel. Because ONA stated that this concept would require additional funding, this idea also evaporated and lost steam.
The process of creating an ONA that gave all of its members equal voice and power (whether districts, regions, satellites or just one central ONA) was also expected to make the dues for members more predictable and affordable. Currently, ONA reports that there are over 2,000 different dues rates, paid by ONA members. Dues are based on a number of factors; full or part time status; collective or non-collective bargaining work sites; the district dues, to name just some factors.
At present, the task force proposed to eliminate Districts and not replace them with anything. There has been much discussion on this concept but it was voted on and passed. People “afraid to allow their Districts to die” are now reneging on this concept and offering less innovative models.
The work is not complete. The task force is still working hard to realize a new, streamlined, more effective and equitable ONA. But, time is winding down. Many challenges still exist.
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky
In October 2017, the ONA HOD will convene. The work of the Governance and Dues Task Force will be presented to the House of Delegates in the form of proposed bylaws changes for a vote.
The bylaws changes proposed will delete the language and concept of districts. There is proposed new language that will simplify the dues categories. The changed bylaws language does not guarantee a tactile future for ONA.
What happens next is still unclear. Concerns still exist. How will geographic areas address unique concerns that exist within the varied locales? Will anything remain reminiscent of the local flavors that presently exist? District Three will continue to share the work of the task force with our membership.
Each member of ONA has a voice in the future direction of the organization. The nominating committee has begun its work and will be approaching and reaching out to many of you to ask you to run as delegates to the ONA HOD 2017. The delegates will vote the proposals in or out.
We will keep you informed! Stay tuned and get involved!