by Nancy Webber
At its biennial meeting in June, the American Nurses Association (ANA) House of Delegates approved several new methods by which organizations can become affiliated with the national association for registered nurses.
Nursing organizations will now be able to become labor affiliates, workplace advocacy affiliates, or organizational affiliates of ANA. Among other requirements, an affiliate must be national in scope and have at least 5,000 registered nurses as members and “not engage in any activity deleterious to the interests of ANA, its constituent members associations, or members.” Affiliates will pay an annual fee to ANA.
The House went on to remove bylaws references to both the United American Nurses and the Center for American Nurses (CAN). Based on a five-year business arrangement initiated in 2003, all state associations were required to affiliate either with CAN, a workplace advocacy group, or with the UAN, a national union for nurses. The agreement expired on June 30 and was not renewed.
“The House agreed that business arrangements between ANA and other groups did not need to be reflected in the bylaws,” said Tina Gerardi, NYSNA’s chief executive officer. The House, which included representatives from all of the ANA constituent member associations, also agreed to postpone a decision on removing the words “ensure a collective bargaining program for nurses” from the ANA bylaws. This proposal cannot be acted upon until the next House of Delegates in 2010.
While it was argued that the national organization does not actually do collective bargaining, state associations that are also unions said the change might make it impossible for them to collect the ANA portion of member dues.
“It may be illegal for us to collect dues from our bargaining unit members to support a national organization that is not a labor organization,” said Tina Gerardi, NYSNA’s chief executive officer. “The ANA and the state associations need more time to evaluate the financial impact of this proposal.”
In other business, the House of Delegates:
As the largest (and most vocal) delegation at the ANA House, New Yorkers made their presence known at sessions and hearings. By all accounts, the NYSNA delegation also was the best prepared group at the two-day business meeting.
With briefing papers in hand and a daylong orientation behind them, NYSNA delegates were often at the microphones to argue the fine points of convoluted bylaws proposals. Delegate captains sitting at the end of each row waved shiny red, green or yellow stars to communicate the recommended vote on each measure that came before the House.
Perhaps the greatest test of the delegation’s devotion to representing New York nurses came on Friday morning, when a backlog of ANA business required the House session to begin at 6 a.m. After attending a caucus until 10 p.m. the night before, Howard Doughty (Nyack Hospital) was heard to remark, “I thought we were against mandatory overtime.”
One of the highlights for New York nurses came after Sen. Hillary Clinton’s address to the House of Delegates on Thursday, June 26, in which she continued her call for healthcare reform. Clinton had been endorsed by the ANA for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination.
After noting the excellent nursing care her husband received during and after his cardiac bypass surgery at New York-Presbyterian, she said, “You [nurses] and those you represent are working hard for us, but I don’t think we’re working hard enough for you. Your role has been undervalued and undermined as your working conditions have deteriorated dramatically.”
Citing several key legislative issues, Clinton added, “You must have the staffing you need so you can do the job you went into nursing to do.”
Clinton greeted the New York delegation in a side room after her speech and received a hearty hug from retired RN Mimi Gonzalez. Although the meeting was no more than a brief “photo op,” the nurses were thrilled at the personal touch from the former candidate and current U.S. Senator from the Empire State.
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