Teachers Union Absorbs Nurses Group

Filed under: Labor,News,Politics,The Economy,Union Organizing,Unions |

The National Federation of Nurses and the American Federation of Teachers, the largest union of professionals in the AFL-CIO, announced an affiliation agreement Thursday, Feb, 14, 2013.

The agreement brings 34,000 registered nurses into teachers union, whose 1.5 million members include more than 48,000 nurses and thousands of other health care professionals.

Nursing union makes new affiliations.

Nursing unions are making new affiliations.

The affiliation agreement maintains the NFN’s autonomy and structure while providing resources for growth and development of the NFN’s membership. NFN’s constituents will continue membership in their state and national organizations, and the American Nurses Association.

The NFN is an alliance of state nursing associations formed in 2009. The NFN is active in Montana, Ohio, Oregon and Washington.

The NFN lost half its membership in 2012 when nurses in New York voted to join another union.

Barbara Crane, a registered nurse and NFN president, said her group voted to ally with the teachers union to give the nurses more political clout and money to unionize nurses.

“A strong voice for nurses is particularly important now in this time of transition when America’s healthcare system is being redesigned,” Crane said. “Nurses are the most trusted healthcare providers, and this new partnership with the AFT will enable us to continue to be the voice for the patients we serve.”

“This partnership solidifies the unity between those who nurture body and mind—those who heal our communities with those who educate our children,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “But nurturers need muscle to advocate on behalf of the students and patients they serve.”

Nursing Union Trends

The move is the most recent event in a trend of smaller nursing unions partnering with larger unions. In January, 10,000 members of National Union of Healthcare Workers joined with the 95,000-member California Nurses Association.

Pressured by unionized nurses concerned about the influence of nurse managers in the organization, the American Nurses Association established the United American Nurses in 1999.

According to LaborNotes, by 2003 the UAN became independent of ANA, affiliating with AFL-CIO. In 2007 several state nursing affiliates in New York, Oregon, Washington, and Ohio, split with the UAN eventually forming the NFN.

The other UAN members joined with the California Nurses Association and the Massachusetts Nurses Association to form National Nurses United. NNU, with 185,000 members, is the nation’s largest nursing organization.

The break with UAN divided the New York State Nurses Association, which went through legal wrangling between factions. The NYSA’s old guard was eventually ousted, nurse supervisors were banned form its board.

According to LaborNotes, several member of the NYSA’s former leadership currently run the NFN.

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