NEW YORK NURSE: January 2013
Hundreds of nurses voted by 91% to move NYSNA forward and leave the American Nurses Association.
“While we’re going forward, the ANA is moving backwards,” said Wendy Braithwaite, RN, a nurse from Montefiore Medical Center.
“Look at all the changes we’ve made over the past year. We settled dozens of contracts, covering 20,000 members. We held the line against benefit cuts. We launched a campaign – a real campaign – to win ratios.”
The vote came at the NYSNA Biennial Conference in October. Hundreds of nurses directed NYSNA’s newly-elected Board of Directors to carry out the disaffiliation in the next ten days. The next day, the board voted to disaffiliate.
This step comes after a year of attacks by the ANA on NYSNA’s new direction – including suspending NYSNA’s membership, barring NYSNA observers from a meeting that made radical changes to the ANA’s own bylaws, and demanding that we disenfranchise 300 dues-paying members.
Over the last year, nurses have made major democratic changes to NYSNA’s structure.
We’ve used those changes to fight for nursing and our patients like never before.
Nurses are standing up to win strong contracts and defend good benefits – settling 63 contracts covering over 23,000 members.
At HHC, Westchester Medical Center, and Erie County Medical Center, public sector nurses have launched campaigns to win strong contracts, take on workplace violence, and improve staffing.
And with an unprecedented statewide, coordinated campaign, NYSNA members have made winning safe nurse-to-patient ratios our number one priority.
With nurses getting involved in record numbers, this decision reflects their commitment to use NYSNA’s financial resources to push for good contracts, strong benefits, healthcare for all, and safe staffing.
Rona Tubon, RN, a Bellevue nurse, asked the assembled nurses: “Are you ready to make ratios the law of the land?” Hundreds of nurses thundered back “Yes!”
“A year ago, I never thought we would leave the ANA,” Mary Fitzgerald, RN, told the crowd when she introduced the motion to disaffiliate.
“The ANA gave us no choice. They want our money – just not our voice!” Fitzgerald is a nurse at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
While nurses have been making NYSNA stronger and more democratic, the ANA has been moving in the opposite direction:
First, they suspended NYSNA’s membership – for appointing the executive director of our choice.
In June, the ANA House of Delegates made radical changes to their own bylaws.
NYSNA wasn’t allowed to vote on changes. ANA wouldn’t even let our observers in the door.
ANA reduced the size of their Board of Directors from 13 to nine – and reduced the number of seats guaranteed for bedside nurses from four to one.
ANA cut NYSNA’s voting power in their Membership Assembly (formerly the House of Delegates) by over 20 percent.
The ANA Committee on Bylaws informed NYSNA that its bylaws were not in compliance with ANA requirements. The ANA wanted us to strip membership and voting rights from more than 300 non-RN collective bargaining members.
NYSNA is joining the tens of thousands of other nurses who have left the ANA.
“This decision comes down to who tells us what to do – our members, or the ANA,” said Clare Miguel, RN, a nurse at Bellevue Hospital.
“We will be the ones who set our future.”
“One year ago, I never thought I’d be up here, saying we should leave the ANA. The ANA has given us no choice.
“They cut the number of seats on their Board for staff nurses from four –
to just one! They cut NYSNA’s voting power in the ANA by 20%!
“They wouldn’t let NYSNA vote on the changes. They wouldn’t even let our observers in the door.
“But they didn’t cut our dues. They want our money. Just not our voice.”
— Mary Fitzgerald, RN, Montefiore Medical Center
“We have done so much in the last year to make NYSNA stronger, more united. The ANA has stood in the way every chance they could get.
“They suspended us – just for picking our own executive director. They locked us out of the meeting where they made the biggest changes in their history.
“They still don’t support legislated nurse-to-patient ratios.
“They’re going backwards. We’re going forwards.”
— Rona Tubon, RN, Bellevue Hospital
“This decision comes down to who tells us what to do – our members, or the ANA.
“We will be the ones who set our future.”
— Clare Miguel, RN, Bellevue Hospital