For immediate release Contact: Dan Lutz, (347) 835-3429 (cell)
New York, NY — October 26, 2012 — Nurses have voted by 91% to move forward and disaffiliate from the American Nurses Association.
The nurses, members of the New York State Nurses Association, say they will focus on fighting for working nurses and their patients.
Their number one focus is passing a New York law that would mandate safe nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals.
A new militant direction
In the last year, nurses have made big changes to their union:
- They elected new leadership, and thousands of nurses voted to make their union structure more democratic.
- Nurses voted to strike at Montefiore Medical Center, Mt. Sinai, St. Luke’s Roosevelt, and Flushing Medical Center. Nurses averted the strikes and won improvements that protect patient care.
- Public sector nurses in the HHC system, Westchester County Medical Center, and Erie County Medical Center launched a campaign to stop workplace violence, improve staffing levels, and defend access to healthcare for all New Yorkers.
“Look at all the changes we’ve made over the past year,” Wendy Braithwaite, RN, an nurse from Montefiore Medical Center, told the nurses’ meeting. “We settled dozens of contracts covering 20,000 members. We held the line against benefit cuts. We launched a campaign – a real campaign – to win legislated nurse-to-patient ratios.”
“While we’re going forward, the ANA is moving backwards,” she said.
The vote came at the NYSNA Biennial Conference on Thursday. Hundreds of nurses directed NYSNA’s new elected Board of Directors to carry out the disaffiliation. NYSNA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously this afternoon to disaffiliate.
Within six months, every NYSNA member will get a chance to vote on whether their union should re-affiliate with the ANA.
This step comes after a year of attacks by the ANA on NYSNA’s new direction – including suspending NYSNA’s membership, barring NYSNA observers from a meeting that made radical changes to the ANA’s own bylaws, and demanding that the union strip 300 dues-paying members of voting rights.
ANA moves in the opposite direction
“A year ago, I never thought we would leave the ANA,” Mary Fitzgerald, RN, told the crowd when she introduced the motion to disaffiliate.
“The ANA gave us no choice. They want our money – just not our voice!” Fitzgerald is a nurse at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
While nurses have been making NYSNA stronger and more democratic, the ANA has been moving in the opposite direction:
- First, they suspended NYSNA’s membership – for appointing the executive director of our choice.
- In June, the ANA House of Delegates made radical changes to their own bylaws that reduce the number of guaranteed seats for staff nurses on their Board of Directors from four to one, and cut NYSNA’s voting power in the ANA by over 20 percent. NYSNA was not allowed to vote on changes, and ANA barred NYSNA observers.
- On Wednesday, the ANA Committee on Bylaws informed NYSNA that its bylaws were not in compliance with ANA requirements. The ANA wanted us to strip membership and voting rights from over 300 non-RN collective bargaining members.
NYSNA is joining the tens of thousands of other nurses who have left the ANA.
With nurses getting involved in record numbers, this decision reflects their commitment to use NYSNA’s financial resources to push for good contracts, strong benefits, healthcare for all, and safe staffing.
“This decision comes down to who tells us what to do – our members, or the ANA,” said Clare Miguel, RN, a nurse at Bellevue Hospital.
“We will be the ones who set our future.”
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