News & Events

Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report (MC)

California Nurses Association Will Work Together To Unionize Hospital Workers, Promote Universal Health Coverage

The Service Employees International Union and the California Nurses Association on Wednesday announced an agreement under which they will seek to unionize employees at hospitals nationwide and promote expansion of health insurance to all U.S. residents, the New York Times reports. Under the agreement, the unions will focus on efforts to unionize employees of larger hospital systems, where nurses would join CNA and other workers would join SEIU. The unions also will coordinate contract negotiations and efforts to promote legislation to make unionization more efficient. In addition, the unions will promote measures that allow states to implement single-payer health care systems and avoid efforts to displace each other at various workplaces.

According to the Times, the agreement ends a "bitter year-long dispute" between the unions, which have "competed to unionize registered nurses." SEIU has 1.8 million members and represents 80,000 nurses, and CNA represents 85,000 nurses. However, CNA will become the largest nursing union in the nation after the completion of a merger with the Massachusetts Nurses Association and the United American Nurses to form a new association with 150,000 members.

Rose Ann DeMoro, president of CNA, said that SEIU and CNA "have buried the hatchet." She said, "We have a moment to seize," adding, "We have to show hospitals that health care reform is the right thing to do."

SEIU President Andrew Stern said, "We spent a lot of time watching each other and at times competing with each other, and now we think it’s the right time to work together." He added that "we believe that our unions, together, can do far more in terms of accomplishing these goals than either of us can do on our own" (Greenhouse, New York Times, 3/19).