Delegates at the biennial convention of the 86,000-member California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organization voted unanimously on Thursday to endorse and join a new RN "super union."
"Let it be known this was a unanimous vote by the house of delegates," CNA/NNOC Co-President Deborah Burger, RN, told hundreds of cheering delegates gathered in San Francisco. "This is truly a historic moment and I hope it sends chills down the backs of those employers who would want to keep us down."
Two other major nursing organizations—United American Nurses and Massachusetts Nurses Association—are also expected to support the merger at separate ratifying conventions. When they do, the new National Nurses United will have 150,000 members and a national organization following a founding convention in Scottsdale, AZ, on Dec. 7-8.
On hand for the vote were several officers from the once-rivals UAN and the MNA, including MNA Executive Director Julie Pinkham, who said, "The entire healthcare agenda is up for grabs. It's a sea change—a great opportunity and a great risk.
The NNU's agenda will include improving patient care and RN standards from coast to coast, winning union representation for all un-represented RNs, passing state and national legislation to protect patients, including national RN-to-patient safe staffing ratios, and working for guaranteed healthcare for all.
CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro says the new union will facilitate "nurses from all over our nation coming together and standing tall with one voice, one vision, and one purpose to build the most incredible, powerful, unshakeable force in the history of nursing and healthcare.
"A unified, national nurses movement has enormous significance for patients and the ability of RNs to work together to improve care standards and transform our broken healthcare system," DeMoro says. "For direct care RNs, it means the opportunity to resist the employer onslaught on the nursing profession and secure a better future for RNs and their families."