The Maine State Nurses Association has sent a strongly-worded letter to the leadership of the American Nurses Association, chiding them for failing to honor a promise made to the MSNA membership last Fall. In a plea to Maine nurses not to disaffiliate at a meeting held on the issue last Fall, the ANA promised the membership that they would fix the flawed structure of the ANA’s national union to make it safe for states like Maine, Massachusetts and Hawaii to belong. The ANA has broken that promise, and instead of fixing the problem, they have gone forward and approved bylaws that make it impossible for these states to safely belong to the ANA Federation.
For both Maine and Massachusetts, the key area of concern behind efforts to disaffiliate from the ANA is the danger presented by the ANA’s plan to force the state nurses associations into joining ANA’s national union, the United American Nurses (UAN) in June. Because of how the UAN is structured (it is overseen by the ANA Board which is partly compromised of managers and supervisors), MNA Attorney Alan McDonald has advised the MNA that belonging to the UAN places MNA bargaining units and every MNA-unionized nurses’ contract in jeopardy.
Because of this flaw, both from a legal and commonsense perspective, the MNA Labor Program has voted unanimously to not belong to the UAN. The Hawaii Nurses Association and the Maine State Nurses Association have also refused to join the UAN because they too oppose its current structure. If ANA has its way in June, these states will be forced into joining the UAN.
The Board of Directors of the Maine State Nurses Association sent a letter on Feb. 11th addressed to the Executive Directors and Presidents of both the ANA and the UAN. The letter registers the MASNA’s disappointment with ANA actions, and seeks an explanation for the ANA’s failure to honor its promise. Below are excerpts from the letter.
It was MSNA’s understanding, that insulation would be a number one priority for ANA. ANA’s leadership expressed a commitment to the MSNA membership concerns during MSNA’s Convention in October 2000; guaranteeing that ANA would submit by-law changes that would assure insulation "similar to Maine". However upon reviewing the UAN by-law changes submitted to the ANA, the promises made did not live up to their guarantee. We, the MSNA Board of Directors, are very disappointed.
MSNA is aware of the influence a Board of Directors has on its membership. It is apparent that the UAN/ANA proposed by-laws will succeed over MSNA’s due to the fact it has ANA Board and ANA/UAN support.
ANA’s proposed by-law changes do not appropriately insulate the UAN from the ANA Executive Director and Board of Directors influence and therefore are unacceptable to MSNA. MSNA feels that ANA leadership has not honored its commitment to MSNA as promised in October 2000.
We are requesting a response to your agreement on assuring "insulation" that you have not lived up to. We are also waiting for the UAN’s written response to the E& GW Council’s question: If the ANA proposed bylaw changes are passed and MSNA is forced into membership in the UAN (which Maine is currently not a member of) would it in fact mean that MSNA would be forced into an affiliation with another union if the UAN/ANA chose to affiliate with another union.
"We support the leadership of the Maine State Nurses Association in attempting to hold the ANA accountable for their actions and their decisions," said Julie Pinkham, MNA Executive Director. "Their failure to address this problem makes it clear that we cannot continue to belong to an organization that willfully places the majority of its members at risk. There is a reason they won’t make the changes Maine and Massachusetts have requested; the reason is they don’t want to form a strong union of registered nurses free of the control and manipulation of managers and administrators. They won’t do this because to do so would force the ANA to truly take stands against the power structure of the health care industry. They refuse to do so, because many of the leaders of the ANA are in fact, representatives of the industry, the very managers and administrators who have created the crisis nurses now face."
The MNA is holding a special meeting to vote on disaffiliation from the ANA on March 24, 2001 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. The meeting begins at 1 p.m. The MNA Board, along with the Cabinet for Labor Relations, the Congress on Health & Safety, the Boards of MNA Districts 2 and 3, as well as nearly every chair of the MNA’s 85 local bargaining units are supporting disaffiliation.