NEW YORK NURSE: January 2008
by Nancy Webber
Citing serious problems with the function and structure of United American Nurses (UAN), the New York State Nurses Association and three other states have broken all ties with the national nurses’ union.
NYSNA joins the Washington State Nurses Association, the Oregon Nurses Association, and the Ohio Nurses Association (which all together represent approximately 65,000 registered nurses, or more than two thirds of the former UAN membership) in disaffiliating from the UAN.
“We made our concerns known to the UAN identifying what we viewed as problems with its structure and how it functions. We asked the UAN to undertake needed reforms so that we could preserve the national organization,” said Barbara Crane, president of the NYSNA Delegate Assembly.
“We offered a series of specific recommendations that would have ensured participation in decision-making by the state associations. Unfortunately, these proposals were dismissed by the UAN leadership.”
NYSNA President Linda O’Brien said there would be no disruption in services to NYSNA local bargaining unit members in New York and New Jersey. “We will continue to focus on providing excellent service to our members,” she said.
The states acted after the UAN refused to discuss their demands for change, delivered in a letter to the UAN Executive Council.
In a joint statement made at a UAN “unity meeting” on Dec. 6, the collective bargaining leaders of the four states asserted, “We were invited to make our concerns known to you, and to all of the UAN leadership, and were told that these concerns would be met with an open mind and with a desire to work in partnership with all UAN member states.
“We sent you our joint letter in that spirit of open dialogue and with a desire to begin the healing process. We had hoped that voicing our concerns would have been the first step towards creating a true unity of purpose and to creating an environment of collaboration where we can all begin to address the deep rifts and divisions currently plaguing the UAN. Your letter in response to our demands is completely unacceptable.”
The joint letter was signed by Delegate Assembly President Barbara Crane and NYSNA President Linda O’Brien in support of the DA president. The demands included, in part, the dismissal of the UAN executive director; the establishment of an advisory board to the UAN Executive Council that would allow participation by all state elected leaders and staff; a forensic audit of the UAN finances for the past three years; and cessation of all formal, informal, written, electronic, and verbal discussions and agreements with SEIU intended to merge, affiliate, or bind the UAN and its states to SEIU.
In a response letter addressed to the four states, UAN President Ann Converso failed to acknowledge the importance of any of their concerns and requests on behalf of their members.