2009 News

Board prepares for vote on National Nurses Union affiliation in Oct.

06.15.2009

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
June 2009 Edition

Beth PiknickPresident's Column
By Beth Piknick

On June 18, the MNA Board of Directors reviewed the most recent draft of the proposed constitution for the new national nurses union and is preparing for vote on the issue by the membership in October.

The new RN “super union” is being founded by the unification of the MNA, the California Nurses Association/NNOC and the United American Nurses. In addition, the board is working on a proposal for a change in the dues policy that would support the MNA’s affiliation with the new national union, while also maintaining MNA’s current position as the strongest voice and union for registered nurses in the commonwealth. 

Union objectives
The objectives of the new national union, stated in the constitution include:
  1. To build a movement to defend and advance the interests of direct care nurses and patients everywhere, in solidarity with sister nurses and allied organizations around the world.
  2. To unite and organize all direct care nurses into a single organization capable of exercising maximum influence over the health care industry, governments and employers.
  3. To win health care justice: accessible, quality health care for all, as a human right.
  4. To provide effective collective bargaining representation to (new national) UAN/NNOC members and support to (new national) UAN/NNOC affiliates in order to promote the economic and professional interests of direct care nurses.
  5. To advocate for direct care nurses and patients on all public policy matters related to safe care and nursing practice, including safe patient limits and patient advocacy rights.

There has never been a greater need or a greater opportunity for nurses to become a major player on the national stage in the debate over the future of health care and labor rights. Health care is the number one issue being debated in the halls of the White House and Congress right now, major changes to labor law are in the works, and the health care industry (hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical companies) are proposing their own positions on these issues that could be devastating for nurses and the patients we care for. Nursing—and the MNA—cannot remain on the sidelines with a fragmented voice. Now is the time for nurses to claim a national voice with national power.

The decision on the MNA’s affiliation with the new national, as well as for the dues structure to support MNA and its participation, will be made by the members of MNA. The MNA Board of Directors is planning for this at the annual business meeting in October during the MNA convention at the Ocean Edge Resort on Cape Cod. To help educate members about these important proposals, the Board is scheduling a series of ten membership meetings (two in each Region) between July and September.

The formation of the 150,000 member national nurses union represents an historic development in the long history of nursing, creating the largest organization of direct care nurses in the history of the United States. The organizations’ constitution is being drafted with a delegation of MNA leaders. The document will set forth the objectives and governing structure of the new organization and will ensure the MNA a prominent role and a voice in the future of this important RN movement that will reshape health care in America.

As a founding organization for the new movement, the MNA has a prominent leadership role under the new constitution, including functioning as one of three council presidents to head the new organization. The MNA will also have a vice president seat on the organization’s 15-member governing executive council and will have a delegate to the national convention for each 1,000 members of the new national.

To fund participation in the new body, as well as to ensure the strength of the MNA built by the membership, the MNA Board will put forward a dues policy proposal to change the existing MNA dues structure—a change that will help provide the resources to assure these efforts. The current dues policy is a flat fee of $65 per month.

The Board has reviewed a number of dues structure methods to determine which could best assure a strong local organization and the new national organization. As a target for the national dues figure the Board has looked at both the CNA/NNOC dues and the UAN dues. CNA/NNOC has a single dues rate that encompasses their state and national dues, while UAN has affiliates set their local rate and the UAN sets the national rate. The rate structure is adjusted annually for both. While a dues structure change is intended to assure the continued strength of the local MNA, the primary focus of the rate change would be for the National Nurses Union. The Board utilized the UAN dues as a vehicle to help guide them in determining what dues rate structure could work for MNA members. (The UAN 2009 rate is 10.86 monthly and will increase to 11.37 monthly in 2010).

From this review the Board is working on a new dues structure that would address both local and national dues in one rate. After review of a number of variations in dues structures the board is focusing on a formula that sets monthly dues rates as a multiple of two times the base hourly rate with a minimum and maximum cap adjusted annually using an average of all bargaining unit scales. This method would require moving away from union direct administration of dues and revert back to a payroll deduction system; and the dues rate would vary for members depending on their rate of pay but with a both a minimum and maximum cap. The Board also reviewed a similar formula to create a minimum and maximum dues rate that would be limited to those two rates and thereby allow for continuation of the union direct method of dues payment. The review, discussions and work are ongoing, and once finalized by the Board will be put before the membership in advance of any vote at Convention.

Members with any questions, suggestions or comments can send them to the Board via e-mail to dschildmeier@mnarn.org.

Please plan to attend the MNA business meeting on Thursday, Oct. 1, where the vote on the affiliation of the new national—as well as the vote to approve the dues—will be conducted. You must be in attendance to vote to approve MNA’s participation in the new national. However, under a bylaw change adopted by the members last year, the vote for a change in dues policy, will allow for limited access for members to request a secret mail ballot prior to the meeting, prtovided they can’t make the business meeting because of religious obligations or due to their work schedule.

For more information about the new national union, to view the schedule of regional meetings or to learn about how to request a mail ballot, visit the 'super union' Web page on the MNA’s Web site. You can also expect additional mailings and e-mail blasts on this process in the coming weeks and months.

FPO