Three RN Unions Join Forces in New Union
By Mike Hall
February 18, 2009
In a move to create a powerful national voice for registered nurses, three of the largest nurse unions in the country announced today they are coming together in a new 150,000-member association.
The three groups are the United American Nurses (UAN), California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) and the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA).
The new organization will be called the United American Nurses-National Nurses Organizing Committee, UAN-NNOC (AFL-CIO), and will bring the MNA's 23,000 members into the AFL-CIO.
A statement from the unions this morning said:
Under the principle that RNs should be represented by an RN union, we resolve to create a new union of staff nurse-led organizations named UAN-NNOC.
UAN President Ann Converso, RN, says the new association is "the first step" in creating a national nurses union.
There's still a lot of work to be done but all three organizations have a singular focus on RNs and patient care.
Says MNA President Beth Piknick, RN:
We have to have RNs speaking for RNs because we are a unique profession. We feel our profession is under attack and because of that, patients are suffering, and for us it's all about the patients. This is a group of like-minded organization that will advocate for our patients.
Among its many priorities, the UAN-NNOC will establish a unified legislative and regulatory program to win critical improvements in patient care and working conditions for RNs, says Rose Ann DeMoro, CNA-NNOC executive director.
DeMoro says one of the new union's top legislative priorities is setting safe nurse-patient staffing ratios. CNA-NNOC led the fight for ratios in California, the only state in the nation with safe staffing laws on the books. Those levels, she says, not only protect patients by ensuring adequate nursing care, but protect nurses, too.
There's been a critical downturn of the economy and ratios keep a safe level of care. When you cut registered nurses, it's a crime for patients. It's also a good safeguard for nurses' jobs.
The UAN-NNOC has set five major goals:
* Build an nurse movement in order to defend and advance the interests of direct care nurses across the country.
* Organize all nonunion direct care RNs (a substantial majority of the budget shall be dedicated to new organizing).
* Provide a powerful national voice for RN rights, safe RN practice, including RN-to-patient staffing ratios under the principle that safe staffing saves lives, and health care justice.
* Provide a vehicle for solidarity with sister nurse and allied organizations around the world.
* Create a national Taft-Hartley pension for union RNs.
DeMoro says that while today's announcement grows the union movement by 23,000, she hopes that
other state associations will join with us, too.
Converso, who worked for 35 years in organized facilities with the protection of a union contract, says:
Thank God for my union. Nurses today are being laid off, deskilled, disciplined. I lived through that once I didn't think I'd see it again. Now, I think, "how do non-union nurses do it?" There are so many unorganized nurses out there and we want to go organize them together.