Not All Nurses Support Super Union

Sarah Kearns, for HealthLeaders Media , September 16, 2009

As the three major nurses' unions in the country came together earlier this month to form the largest registered nurses union in the U.S., some resistance remains from Massachusetts nurses' unions.

So far only one of the three unions has voted unanimously to endorse and join the proposed "super union." In a meeting held on September 10, delegates from the Oakland-based California Nurses Association (CNA) became the first organization to join the super union. The Oakland-based association represents 86,000 of the potential 150,000 nurses of National Nurse United (NNU).

After CNA's vote, this leaves the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) and United American Nurses to vote on the "super union" proposal. However, some representatives of the Massachusetts union insist they want nothing to do with NNU.

"Our nurses are telling us they do not want this merger to go through," said Barbara Norton, a Region 5 regional director of the Massachusetts Nurses Association and chair of Brigham & Woman's Hospital's MNS bargaining unit in an official statement to the San Francisco Business Times.

"And that is the position we are going to take."

According to the California Nurse Association, the new super union aims to strengthen the ability of direct care nurses to protect and improve patient care conditions, improve nursing standards, win union representation in an "RN union" for all unrepresented RNs, pass state and national legislation to protect patients, and to work for guaranteed healthcare for all.

Before moving forward, the super union must gain approval of all three organizations without alienating major portions of each group's members.

The MNA will have an opportunity to express their opinions and vote on the proposed merger on October 1 in Brewster, MA.

Sarah Kearns is an editor for HCPro in the Quality and Patient Safety Group. Contact Sarah at

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