MNA members who attended the October 16 business meeting during the organization’s annual convention in Worcester overwhelming approved a series of proposed bylaw changes that resulted in the restructuring of the MNA’s former districts and the restructuring of membership dues for RNs, HPs and labor program members.
In creating the new structure, the districts have been renamed "Regional Councils," with membership in the councils based on where each MNA member lives versus where he/she works. This change will foster local community and political involvement by nurses in different regions of the state. Each council will have the same mission and purpose, and will be required to comply with the MNA bylaws.
The new councils will also work in concert with the goals and mission of the statewide organization. To make the councils more inclusive of union members, each local bargaining unit within the boundaries of the council will have a seat on the board of directors, with elections held for seven other seats.
"This change will give every member an opportunity to be involved at a new and exciting level," said Karen Higgins, RN and president of the association. "Just as important, it will allow the organization to provide a new level of service and resources to its members."
Previously, the MNA was divided into five districts, each of which covered a different region of the state. District 1 of MNA, for example, encompassed nurses who lived in western Massachusetts—from Hampden County to the New York boarder. A portion of MNA membership went to the district to which a nurse or labor program member belonged. The districts served as a localized structure within MNA to help nurses in those regions pursue initiatives specific to them.
The previous district structure had existed since 1930, and little or no change had been made to it during that 70-year period. Under the old structure, members in different districts paid different levels of dues, and each district had its own set of bylaws and held its own election of offi cers. In addition, the mission and purpose of each district differed from district to district—resulting in a serious lack of connectivity between the district and the bargaining units that were included in that same district.
In addition, Regional Council dues will be made uniform across all five councils at $30 per member, thereby assuring all members, RNs and healthcare professionals access and involvement. This was done to provide equity across the regions. To ensure that each region has a similar level of service to meet member needs, a certain percentage of regional dues will be pooled into a common fund, with those funds allocated to establish offi ces in each region and to allow for the hiring of a community organizer to assist in mobilizing support for local activities.
The suggested move from the district structure to the new regional councils was put in motion after a vote by the MNA membership at the organization’s 2002 convention. The motion called for the leaders of the MNA districts to come together to explore ways for the MNA regional structure to be more responsive to the local membership. The group, with representation and participation by four of the fi ve districts, held a series of meetings throughout the winter and spring and presented its recommended bylaw changes to local boards and to the MNA board in May.
The topic had garnered signifi cant attention throughout that time, and members turned out in full force to show their support for the proposed change at this year’s convention—with hundreds of nurses and health care professionals gathering in Mechanics Hall in order to vote at the organization’s business meeting.
"The overwhelming approval with which this vote passed represents important and exciting things to come for members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association," said Julie Pinkham, executive director of the MNA. "The new structure will help us move the membership’s agenda even more effectively."