December 18, 2009 Volume 110 Number 24

Nurses unions merge

The California Nurses Association (CNA), the United American Nurses (UAN), and the Massachusetts Nurses Association have merged to form National Nurses United (NNU).

The new union is affiliated with the national AFL-CIO.

The organizations held a founding convention Dec. 7 in Phoenix, Arizona. Boasting 150,000 members, founders describe NNU as “the largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in U.S. history.”

NNU will be governed by an executive council composed of three co-presidents, a secretary-treasurer, and 11 vice presidents.

Rose Ann DeMoro was named executive director. She has served as executive director of CNA since 1993 and is a national AFL-CIO vice president.

Elected co-presidents were Karen Higgins, an RN from Massachusetts; Jean Ross, secretary-treasurer of the UAN; and Deborah Burger, an RN with CNA.

Martha Kuhl of CNA was tapped as secretary-treasurer.

Convention delegates adopted a constitution and announced plans to move quickly to “organize all direct care RNs into a single organization capable of exercising influence over the health care industry, governments, and employers,” and 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. The term “direct care” nurse is meant to distinguish them from nurses who work as supervisors.

Stewart Acuff, assistant to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, told convention delegates: “You are going to make a difference for this country by uniting your power and strengthening your voice. The founding of the NNU is a major step forward in the fight to achieve health care for every American and to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.”

(Editor’s Note: In December 2007, nurses associations from Oregon, Washington, Montana, Ohio, New Jersey, and New York disaffiliated from the UAN. In April 2009 those six unions formed the independent National Federation of Nurses. NFN represents more than 70,000 registered nurses in those six states, including 15,000 in Washington and 11,500 in Oregon. The Oregon Nurses Association is an affiliate of the Oregon AFL-CIO, and the Washington Nurses Association is affiliated with the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.)

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