News & Events

Three Nurses Groups Ratify Super Union

By John Commins
HealthLeaders Media

After months of negotiations, representatives from the nation’s three largest registered nurses unions voted unanimously Monday to merge and create a 150,000-member, coast-to-coast "super union" with a mission to organize every bedside RN in the nation.

The new union, National Nurses United, which organizers say is the largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in U.S. history, will represent RNs who up to now had been served by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, United American Nurses, and the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

"We are going to make sure we organize every single direct-care RN in this country. RNs and our patients deserve to have a national nurses movement that can advocate for them," said Deborah Burger, RN of CNA/NNOC, who was elected Monday as one of three charter co-president of NNU, in a media release.

The other two NNU co-presidents are Karen Higgins, an RN from Massachusetts, and Jean Ross, the secretary-treasurer of the UAN.

Monday’s vote at a ratifying convention in Phoenix, AZ, was the culmination of eight months of planning that began in February when the three unions announced the proposed merger. Each union conducted separate ratifying votes among its members this fall, and Monday’s overwhelming vote of approval was not a surprise.

In adopting a constitution and electing national officers, the NNU said it will campaign to:

  • Advance the interests of direct-care nurses and patients across the U.S.
  • Organize all direct-care RNs "into a single organization capable of exercising influence over the healthcare industry, governments, and employers."
  • Promote effective collective bargaining representation to all NNU affiliates to promote the economic and professional interests of all direct-care RNs.
  • Expand the voice of direct-care RNs and patients in public policy, including the enactment of safe nurse-to-patient ratios and patient advocacy rights in Congress and every state.
  • Win "healthcare justice, accessible, quality healthcare for all, as a human right."

"This means we finally have [an organization and constitution] that directly challenges the role of corporations in healthcare delivery, instead of accommodating and enabling their control," said Minnesota Nurses Association President Linda Hamilton, RN.

NNU is affiliated with the AFL-CIO. Stewart Acuff, personal assistant to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, attended the ratifying vote and called the formation of the NNU a major step in the fight to achieve "healthcare for every American regardless of ability to pay, socio-economic status, or accident of birth."

He then urged the NNU delegates to work toward passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.