The newly retired Linda Warino is a 45-year member and staple of the Ohio Nurses Association. Her passionate energy is contagious, and her leadership helped pave the way for many initiatives at all levels – from her workplace to Washington D.C.
Linda intentionally sought employment at an ONA-represented facility after graduating Youngstown State University in 1973. She wanted to have a say in her practice and she knew ONA membership is the platform the gives nurses power. She’s become a mainstay of the association ever-since, serving as a past president, a member of the health policy council, a representative to ANA, and most recently, the executive director of ONA’s District 3, among many other roles.
It’s hard to believe Linda’s first career choice wasn’t nursing. In fact, her heart was set on becoming a lawyer so she could help those in need. That all changed when she fell ill as a junior in high school. She was admitted to the hospital, where Linda said,
“I began to notice more and more the modest but most intelligent patient advocates caring for me 24 hours a day. The registered nurses were the most compassionate, organized, effective and efficient caregivers in the facility.
While I admired the physicians for their diagnostic skills and the confidence they exuded, I was completely taken by the comprehensive and considerate care offered by the unassuming RNs on staff.
This experience affected me so that I altered my life’s plan and entered the Youngstown State University nursing school immediately out of high school. It was a decision that I have never regretted and I have enjoyed a diverse and rewarding nursing career ever since.”
Linda notes that she’s had many memorable experiences during the tenure of her ONA membership, but specifically recounts her first experience with contract negotiations, during which she witnessed the power of collective action:
“When I was a relatively new registered nurse, the YGDNA bargaining unit (the union at what is now Northside Medical Center, Youngstown) leadership held mass meetings regarding the upcoming contract negotiations. There was talk of an impending strike in the event an agreement could not be reached.
While I valued collective action, I did not understand the issues that would force us to strike. The economics on the table were decent and the benefits were abundant so I clearly voiced concern to my colleagues that I was not interested in a strike unless it was for something very important.
News spread quickly of the “dissonance” being perpetrated by me, the newcomer. Before I knew it, I was offered an intervention from several members of the bargaining unit leadership (including my friend and colleague, Mary Ellen Patton).
At that time they asked me what my issues entailed. I explained that I had just started a nursing career that I loved, I was newly engaged to be married and that I did not wish to disrupt what seemed to be a smooth running life course without good reason.
I asked point blank what the sticking point to an agreement could be. They quickly informed me that the economics and benefits were not the issue at all but that the employer refused to allow the RNs in the facility to uphold the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses without fear of recrimination. They wanted it placed in the contract for all nurses to know and feel free to abide by.
That was an awakening for me. I could not believe it. It seemed that ethical behavior should be a given.
The Medical Center prodded by the physicians who feared a nurse takeover of their profession refused to agree so a seven-week strike ensued. Not only did I support the job action but I stood on the picket line on Christmas Eve in the freezing rain with my professional engineer fiancé.
Seven weeks later, the strike was over and The “Code” was incorporated into our contract along with the original economic enhancements offered.
It was at that point that I realized the true power of collective action and the need for collaboration in order to achieve great things.”
During retirement, Linda plans to enjoy life with her also newly-retired husband of over 42 years. They plan to spend more time with their children and nine precious grandchildren, while also traveling and learning how to truly relax.
Linda still plans on continuing to serve her community and profession with fervor.