Super union update: Membership readies for historic vote on Oct. 1
From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
September 2009 Edition
By Beth Piknick
As we close in on Oct. 1 and the historic vote on the MNA affiliation with a new national nurses union and the vote on the new dues structure to support the MNA and the proposed national, members are becoming more interested in the process and looking for information to help them make this momentous decision. We have already held five regional meetings and have five more planned for September. With each meeting, we have seen attendance rise, and the MNA continues to field calls and emails from members with questions.
To help answer those questions, this issue of the Massachusetts Nurse features answers to the most commonly asked questions from our members.
As with any significant proposed change, members will have different opinions. As indicated by the motion brought by members at last year’s convention, the members have asked the Board to fill the void caused by the lack of a national staff nurse organization. The Board is confident that in affiliating with the National Nurses United that void will be filled and we will be able to seize this key moment in nursing history. With health care the number one issue in Washington, with sweeping labor reforms also on the political agenda, and with this—the potential to organize unorganized nurses throughout the nation—now is the time for the MNA to join this national movement of RNs.
As with any national organization the dues necessary to support those efforts must be addressed. We understand that any change in dues is difficult, particularly now. But as you can see from our answers about the new dues structure, we believe this change is fair and equitable, and will provide us with the ability to maintain the organization both locally and nationally going forward. There is no one method that will address every legitimate perspective; the Board’s proposal was designed to address the greatest number of concerns in the most balanced fashion possible.
We are also extremely cognizant of the herculean efforts undertaken to remove MNA from the American Nurses Association, which was a national organization dominated by managers which took positions that reflected that dominance. I, as well as every MNA leader, was involved in that effort. Having learned from that experience, we will not place the autonomy or sovereignty of the MNA you built at risk in exchange for the long-desired and overdue national voice. In recognition of this, we have crafted a relationship with the new national that provides us with all the autonomy and protection members have asked for, which allows us to exit the organization with 30 days written notice as well as provide the continued independence of our organizations actions and positions. This ensures that members can aggressively become active in the national while protecting MNA’s interests. This is also important to ensure that if national dues were increased by delegates in the future the members of MNA can withdraw from the national if we do not wish to increase our dues in order to continue the relationship with the national.
Let me be clear about this. In joining the new national, MNA and its local bargaining units will see NO changes on the local and state level. More importantly, by adding the new national component, we are able to focus our voice and our power on the local level, while being part of an organization that simultaneously can address issues on the national level that impact our bargaining units and our members. Issues such as the supervisory concerns that threatened our units and made organizing nurses almost impossible, and the Taft-Hartley pension fund.
The Board has worked with deliberate effort and believes that this new opportunity fulfills the directive that you, the membership, gave us, which was to build a truly national voice for direct care RNs. As members of MNA please learn as much as you can about this opportunity, and we wholeheartedly recommend securing the future of nursing by voting yes on Oct. 1.