2009 News

Frequently Asked Questions about National Nurses Union

09.15.2009

Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions concerning the National Nurses Union and proposed dues change.  Please continue to visit the National Nurses United page over the coming weeks as we will be adding questions and answers based on feedback we receive from members.

Q. 1.  What are some benefits of being in the National Nurses Union?

A.
The new National Nurses Union will:

  • Provide a strong and powerful voice of direct care nurses. Without a National Voice for direct care nurses, the vacuum is currently being filled by ANA and others who do not represent the views of frontline nurses.
  • Move and defend labor law reform that protects RNs' ability to remain organized or to make it easier for nonunion nurses to organize.
  • Be a stakeholder in the debate over our core issues such as; healthcare reform, RN staffing, mandatory overtime, and whistle blower protection.
  • By increasing the number of unionized nurses throughout the U.S. we push back the agenda of the health industry on important issues such as UAPs, nurse compact, care and redesign.
  • Create a national multiemployer (Taft-Hartley) pension for union RNs. A multiemployer pension is a union/employer run defined benefit pension with the union having equal votes with the employer. Many unions currently enjoy this benefit, but nurses do not due to their fragmentation.
  • The participating organizations have already begun working on an aggressive national legislative agenda, which includes supporting a number of important pro-nurse, pro-patient bills that would provide access to quality care for all, provide nurses with safe working and practice conditions, while improving patient outcomes.  These include:

     

    • A bill to set safe staffing limits for all the nation’s hospitals which account for patient acuity.
    • A bill to require employers to provide mechanical lift devices and lift teams to nurses to prevent injuries and promote safe patient handling.
    • National whistleblower protection for nurses who speak out against unsafe care practices.
    • Legislation to prohibit the use of mandatory overtime as a staffing mechanism.
    • Support for HR 676, real health care reform that would create a single payer health care system providing “Medicare for All.”


 

Q. 2.  Will anything change with my local bargaining unit or with my MNA representation?

A.MNA remains your union and professional association. You will have the leadership you elect, with the same staff, resources and representation. In addition, we will have national allies and a stronger national voice to protect our contracts, advance our agenda and promote our patient advocacy role.


 

Q. 3.  How many nurses in how many states would be represented by the new National Nurses Union?

A.As currently constituted, the new National Nurses Union would have more than 150,000 members in 23 states, as well as Washington D.C and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  States with nurses represented by the new national will include:  Alabama, Alaska, California Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.  Since the announcement of the formation of the new national, a number of other local nurses’ unions from a number of other states have inquired about affiliating with the new national, so we anticipate continued expansion for the organization once it has been established. 


 

Q. 4.  When we vote on whether or not to join the National will it require a majority or two- thirds vote?

A.
It will require a majority vote.


 

Q. 5. How will members have input in the policies and positions of the new national organization.

A.Under the constitution, the MNA will send as many as 22 delegates to the organizations’ annual convention, where all policies and positions of the national will be debated and voted on. Also, we appoint one of three presidents to the national, as well as a vice president who will sit on the governing executive council. This representation will provide us with the ability to shape the decisions and positions of the new national.


 

Q. 6.  How will the 22 delegates to the national organization be selected?

A.The MNA Board of Directors will be discussing this at its September meeting, and will be developing a preliminary process for the appointment of delegates to the founding convention in December; while also developing a more formalized process for the selection and/or election of delegates for subsequent years. We will update the answer to this question following the meeting in September.


 

Q. 7. Who is eligible to be a delegate to the national organization?

A.You must be a member of an MNA local bargaining unit to serve as a delegate to the national organization.


 

Q. 8.  How much of MNA dues will be going to the National per year. Is it a lump sum or a "per capita" amount?

A.The national dues are a per capita amount based on the size of the organization participating. For MNA, based on our current membership roster, our dues would represent approximately 14 percent of our annual budget.


 

Q. 9.  Will MNA still hold its own convention each year for members?

A.Absolutely. It is important to remember that in joining the national, the MNA will remain as is for our members. We will provide all of the services we currently provide, we will continue to represent you and advocate for you as we always have with no changes. We will continue to have complete autonomy to develop our own polices and positions on the state level, and those policies and positions will be debated and decided on at the business meeting of our annual convention as they have for more than 100 years.


 

Q. 10.  If things don’t work for the National Nurses Union, can we get out easily or do we have to do what we did for disaffiliation from the ANA?

A.MNA can withdraw from the National Nurses Union by giving 30 days notice to the Executive Council. The decision to disaffiliate would be by a majority vote of the membership.


 

Q. 11.  After the constitution is adopted how will future national dues decisions be made?

A.National dues decisions will be made by the national delegates, 22 of them will be from the MNA. The national dues are paid out of the existing MNA dues.


 

Q. 12.  Will the National Nurses Union be able to raise MNA dues?

A.No, changes in MNA dues will be made by MNA members at the annual MNA business meeting as they are now. If MNA dues are insufficient to cover National dues increases then MNA members would have to decide whether to raise dues or disaffiliate.


 

Q. 13.  What is the difference between the ANA and the National Nurses Union?

A.The ANA is a management dominated organization that does not reflect the views of direct care nurses. The Proposed New National Nurses Union is a union created and run by direct care nurses reflecting their views and needs.


 

Q. 14.  How many nurses belong to ANA compared to the new national?

A.
ANA has approximately 75,000 – 80,000 members while the new National will have more than 150,000 members


 

Q. 15. What is the AFL-CIO?

A.The AFL-CIO is a voluntary federation of 56 National and International labor unions. The UAN and the CNA-NNOC already belong to the AFL-CIO. The new national organization would belong to the AFL-CIO. It is not a labor union. Their mission is to improve lives of working families, bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to the nation.


 

Q. 16.  What is the advantage of being in the AFL-CIO?

A.By joining with over 11 million other union members, our labor voices will be more powerful, especially in Washington, DC. At the State level, many of our bargaining units already participate through the Labor Councils, but their participation is limited because we are not members of the AFL-CIO. In cases of strikes or job actions, the AFL-CIO provides support on the picket line as well as expertise to assist nurses in securing unemployment benefits and other resources. As full members of the AFL-CIO, our legislative agenda will be supported.


 

Q. 17.  Will we have to pay dues to the AFL-CIO also?

A.
The national AFL-CIO dues will be included as part of the new MNA dues structure.


 

Q. 18. What happens if the MNA dues proposal is amended or changed at the convention?

A.The BOD has calculated the amount that is needed for the MNA to join the National and to maintain MNA’s current level of representation, programming and services to our members built through the five-year plan adopted by the membership in 2004. If the proposal is amended to decrease the dues amount, then the funds would be insufficient to support our joining the National.


 

Q. 19. What are dues for non-bargaining unit members?

A.
They will be the minimum rate, which is currently $65/month (minus the $12 labor program assessment fee).


 

Q. 20.  What are the dues for Healthcare Professionals?

A.They will be 75% of the current minimum. This is unchanged from present dues, however, as the minimum increases (the average of all MNA scales for step 1) your dues would be adjusted, but you will always pay 75% of the minimum rate. 


 

Q. 21. What happens to associate membership?

A.
The associate membership stays the same, $20/month or $240/year.


 

Q. 22. For per diems who work minimal hours, what will the minimal dues rate be? 

A.To be qualified for reduced dues under the minimal hours category you must have been paid for less than 988 hours (which is equivalent to 19 hours or less per week) in a given year. Individuals who qualify for reduced dues based on minimal hours paid would be charged 75% of their applicable rate. The time line for applying for reduced dues is January 1 to April 1 of each year. Applications must be renewed each year.


 

Q. 23.  I am per diem but do not work steady hours; do I have to pay dues by payroll deduction?

A.
No, you can pay union direct.


 

Q. 24.  If I make $50/hr, will I have to pay $100/month in dues?

A.No. Any hourly rate over $39 will be capped at the maximum rate for 2010 of $78/month (the maximum rate is determined by the average of all MNA scales for step 7).


 

Q. 25.  How do I pay these dues?

A.The easiest option is the payroll deduction. The $52/yr administrative charge for payroll deduction will be eliminated due to the structural changes. You may still choose other methods of payment such as credit card, monthly or yearly payment.


 

Q. 26. If dues are deducted from payroll, will the deduction be made "pre-tax"?

A.Pre tax deductions are limited by law – union dues are not eligible for pre-tax deduction. However, union dues are tax deductable on your annual tax filing.


 

Q. 27. Will members have a choice of payroll deduction or paying in lump sum(s), i.e., quarterly or annually?

A.Due to the structural change, members will move to a payroll deduction system but, members will also be given the option of union direct as well as all of the options available now in addition to a weekly option.


 

Q. 28.  I am currently paying an extra $52/yr for payroll deductions, am I still going to pay the extra $52/yr?

A.
No, due to the structural change, the MNA will eliminate the administrative charge for payroll deductions.


 

Q. 29.  When will the dues increase go into effect?

A.If passed, the dues change will go into effect on July 1, 2010. Members whose hourly rate is $32.50 or less will see no change on July 1, 2010. Some members already on payroll deduction may see a slight reduction. For others, the increase of varying amounts will be effective July 1, 2010 but will not exceed $78 per month.


 

Q. 30.  When will I know if the proposed dues change passes?

A.
No later than November, after the mail ballots are counted.


 

Q. 31.  What is the current average step 1 and step 7 wages?

A.Step 1 is $31.36. Step 7 is $39.68. The MNA Board of Directors has elected to set the initial rates as no less than the current dues of $65/month and $78/month maximum. Thereafter, each July the minimum (average of all MNA scales for step 1) and maximum rate (average if all MNA scales for step 7) will be determined.


 

Q. 32.  Are the minimum and maximum rates set on the hourly increase of my individual facility?

A.No. The minimum and maximum rates are based on the average of all MNA salary scales. In January of each year the MNA will look at all MNA salary scales in effect, take the average of step 1 for the minimum rate and step 7 for the maximum rate. The minimum and maximum will be 2X’s the averages for those steps but not less than the prior year (effective July of that year).


 

Q. 33.  In these tough economic times, has the board considered a temporary increase in dues, with a set end date when the dues would be adjusted downward?

A.In crafting the dues proposal, the board of directors looked carefully at two overarching objectives: first, to provide the funding to fulfill the membership’s longstanding goal of forming a new national nurses union; and second, to maintain the current level of services and resources that our membership has come to value and expect from their membership in the MNA. A temporary dues change would not allow us to meet the membership’s objectives. The cost of doing the work of the MNA has continued to increase and will continue to increase as do costs for all of us. Most, if not all unions of our size and complexity of work already incorporate a formula that allows dues to escalate over time to keep pace with cost inflation. Without a sustainable change in dues at this time, the MNA cannot participate in the new national, nor can it sustain the current level of services the members both value and demand.  It is in tough economic times that employers attempt to cut pay and benefits and employ practices that can compromise nursing practice.  In this climate our members, need a strong and viable MNA (both locally and nationally) to protect your interests.


 

Q. 34.  By having a minimum and maximum, aren’t the nurses in the teaching hospitals subsidizing the nurses in the community hospitals?

A.No. All nurses regardless of where they work will see the same effect under the proposed dues structure. Nurses at teaching hospitals below the max will pay less than the max just as nurses in the community who make more than the max will be capped at the max. All community nurses do not fall below the max just as all teaching hospital nurses do not make the max.


 

Q. 35.  Under the new dues structure younger nurses will continue to pay what they already pay for dues, yet more experienced nurses will pay a higher amount. While we all have the same benefits, how is it that more experienced nurses pay higher dues.

A.In crafting the new dues structure, the Board worked hard to craft an equitable system that was fair and balanced, while still meeting the organization’s objectives of joining a new national nurses union, and preserving the current level of MNA services.  While it is true that younger nurses at the bottom of the pay scale pay a lower dues rate than those at the top half of most pay scales, it is also true that those nurses are making significantly less money than the nurses paying the maximum rate ($67,000 per year at the average of all step 1 scales for MNA contracts vs. $81,000 for nurses making $39 per hour). For full time nurses, the proportion of dues paid at the minimum and the maximum rate is nearly identical.  However as a nurse moves beyond the cap, that proportion decreases. Having said this the board also strived to cap the amount at a level in which all members will still see significant salary increases beyond the cap.  For example, most MNA salary scales go well beyond step 7 to step 14, but the cap will occur at the average of step 7.


 

Q. 36.  How will dues be set for members, like school nurses, who are not paid an hourly rate but, instead, are paid yearly salaries based on the 180-day school year?

A.In calculating the dues rate for school nurses, their salaries would be annualized over a 12 month period. For example, a school nurse making $46,000 per year (the average school nurse salary for MNA contracts) would be calculated to have an hourly wage of $22.50 per hour and as such would pay the minimum dues rate. There would be very few school nurses in the MNA who would pay more than the minimum.


 

Q. 37.  The new national constitution incorporates a 2.5% annual increase each year to account for cost inflation. Does the new MNA dues structure account for this, or will we need to increase dues again in the near future?

A.The new dues structure was specifically designed with this in mind, as such, the MNA will be able to meet the requirements of the national dues going forward, while also providing our organization with the ability to sustain services in the wake of typical cost inflation. In the event that our dues structure cannot meet our obligations to the national, the Board would be required to put forth a proposal to increase dues, which the members would be able to approve or reject.


 

Q. 38.  Why is the convention being held in Brewster this year?

A.The convention location is set up 2-3 years in advance, so this was set prior to the National Affiliation discussions. Each year the convention is held in a different region (last year the convention was held in Region 4 in Burlington).


 

Q. 39.  Who is eligible to vote on this issue?

A.All members in good standing are eligible to attend and vote at the business meeting and there is no cost to attend. You must be in attendance to vote to approve the 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 members to request a secret mail ballot prior to the meeting, provided they cannot make the business meeting because of either religious obligations or due to their work requirement.


 

Q. 40.  How do I know if I’m eligible to vote for a change in dues policy by supplemental secret mail ballot?

A.
To be eligible to vote for a change in dues policy by supplemental secret mail ballot you must:

  1. be a member in good standing (no outstanding dues balance as of October 1).
  2. have worked a shift which ends after 12 a.m. on 10/1/09 or began prior to 12 a.m. on 10/2/09, or have a religious obligation during the business meeting preventing your participation.


 

Q. 41.  How do I request a secret mail ballot?

A. To register to vote for a change in dues policy by supplemental secret mail ballot you must submit a supplemental secret mail ballot request form. Your mail ballot request form must be mailed to:
Massachusetts Nurses Association • 340 Turnpike Street • Canton, MA, 02021
or faxed to 781.821.4445 c/o Joe-Ann Fergus, Director, Division of Membership no later than September 24, 2009. Download a supplemental secret mail ballot request.


 

Q. 42.  How will MNA audit mail ballots to determine whether a nurse actually worked on October 1?

A.We will audit mail ballots the same way we audit applicants for reduced hours. Employers will be asked to send conformation for nurses paid to work the day of the convention. Our intention is to audit everyone who votes by secret ballot.


 

Q. 43.  Do I need to pre-register for the business meeting?

A.No, however, to avoid long waiting lines to get into the meeting, and to assure we provide sufficient space, pre-registration for the business meeting is strongly encouraged. While on-site registration is allowed, those who pre-register will be assured seating in the main meeting hall. To pre-register for the business meeting, contact Robin Gannon by phone, 781.830.5724; by fax, 781.821.4445; or by e-mail at rgannon@mnarn.org.


 

Q. 44.  Does my MNA Convention registration include registration for the business meeting where the vote takes place?

A.No. Your convention registration does not register you for the business meeting.

 


 

Q. 45. When will the Supplemental Secret Mail Ballot on Dues be mailed?

A.The supplemental mail ballot will be mailed to members whose request for a mail ballot was received at MNA offices by September 24, the week following the business meeting.

 


 

Q. 46. Why is the mail ballot being mailed after the business meeting?

A.The business meeting acts as the governing body and while there are some limitations on what modification could occur, nonetheless the proposal can be modified. As a result, the proposal voted on could be different than that proposed and thus the ballot would reflect the change made by the members at the business meeting.

 

National Nurses United page

 

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