Interim Leadership Established – Founding Convention Set for December
CHICAGO—Three influential nurses’ organizations late last week set in motion a process for building what some are already calling an RN "super union" with a 150,000 member united organization that will become the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in U.S. history.
Meeting in Chicago, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, United American Nurses, and Massachusetts Nurses Association, adopted an agreement that creates an interim leadership body and structure and sets a date for a national founding convention in December, 2009.
The pact also reaffirms the commitment of the three groups, and their soon to be united union, to build what leaders call a more potent, national movement for RNs with an overwhelming focus on seeking union representation for all non-union RNs, and the guiding principle that all RNs should be represented by an RN union.
In February, the three organizations first announced plans to unite. The new agreement creates an interim executive council led by a three-member council of presidents selected by each of the founding organizations. It also provides for a committee to draft a constitution for the new organization which will be known for now as the UAN-NNOC.
Next week the three organizations will work together to cosponsor a national RN Day of Action in Washington, May 13, coinciding with National Nurses’ Week, to emphasize RN ratios, RN representation, and comprehensive healthcare reform.
"Our collective strength and unity will have an enormous impact on improving the lives and workplace standards for all direct care RNs, and our ability to refocus our healthcare system on delivering quality care for our patients. It’s an exciting moment and opportunity," said CNA/NNOC Co-president Deborah Burger, RN.
"Since the founding of UAN, we have had a vision of reuniting staff nurses in one single, powerful movement," said UAN President Ann Converso, RN. "Over the years we have seen staff RNs splinter and work in isolation–and we have seen employers, managers and anti-union forces take full advantage of that isolation. With the reunification of 150,000 staff nurses working together under the UAN-NNOC banner, we have a historic opportunity to say, ‘those days are over.’ Together, there is no limit to what staff nurses can achieve to win better patient care and fix our healthcare system."
"We are pleased to have taken the next step forward in creating a super union for registered nurses in America," said Julie Pinkham, RN, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. "The overwhelming focus of this new body will be to organize nurses across this country, while also providing a powerful national voice to address a variety of issues important to nurses and the patients they care for."
"The reunification of these three organizations creates a solid foundation of what will become the largest union of registered nurses in the U.S.," said UAN Executive Director Walt Frederickson, RN. "We will now start the hard work of organizing the nearly 2 million unorganized RNs in this country and invite them to join us in building this organization so their voices will be heard advocating for the nursing profession and healthcare reform."
"The new agreement underlines the promise of our February accord and brings closer to fruition a unified movement to establish one national union for RNs with unlimited promise. It is a historic time for registered nurses in America," said CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro.
In addition to emphasizing union organizing campaigns for RNs, the three organizations have said they intend to work assertively to improve conditions and standards for RNs and patients, including adoption of RN-to-patient staffing ratios, and providing a vehicle for solidarity with sister nurse and allied organizations around the world.