FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2009
11:36 AM

CONTACT: SEIU & CNA/NNOC

With 2 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America. Focused on uniting workers in three sectors to improve their lives and the services they provide, SEIU is the largest health care union, including hospitals, nursing homes, and home care; the largest property services union, including building cleaning and security; and the second largest public employee union.

CNA/NNOC is the nation's largest organization of direct care RNs with 85,000 members in all 50 states.

SEIU, CNA/NNOC Announce Major Accord

Expected to Spur Campaign for Employee Free Choice Act, Spark Major Drive for Healthcare Union Organizing, and Boost RN Standards and Power for Healthcare Workers

OAKLAND, CA/WASHINGTON DC - March 19 - In a dramatic agreement likely to accelerate the drive to pass the Employee Free Choice Act and rapidly promote unionization in the healthcare sector, the Service Employees International Union and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today announced the signing of a transformative cooperation agreement.

Under the pact SEIU and CNA/NNOC, the largest unions in the nation representing healthcare workers and registered nurses, respectively, will work together to bring union representation to all non-union RNs and other healthcare employees and step up efforts to enact Employee Free Choice.

Increased union representation in healthcare, say the unions, would play a huge role in strengthening the ability of nurses and other employees to fight for improved patient care standards, promote economic recovery through improved economic standards, and sharply assist efforts to enact genuine healthcare reform nationally and in state capitols.

Concurrently, SEIU and CNA/NNOC jointly endorsed measures to allow states to adopt single-payer, or an expanded and updated Medicare for all, as a comprehensive, cost effective healthcare reform.

"The marks the beginning of a new future for nurses and other healthcare workers and their patients throughout this nation," said Andy Stern, president of SEIU, the nation's largest healthcare union. " We are lining up to make sweeping changes to this country's broken healthcare system, and as we wait for the starting gun it is imperative that we put the past behind us and move forward by putting all healthcare workers in the strongest possible position to define reform, move legislation and make the new healthcare system operational. Is this accord surprising? Perhaps, but those who recognize our shared value of making sure registered nurses and other healthcare workers have not only a say but a critical role in helping reshape a failed system into something that actually helps people know that this is the right step to help us meet the challenge and the call of this moment."

"This is an exciting new day for nurses and patients across the nation," said CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro. "This agreement provides a huge spark for the emergence of a more powerful, unified national movement that is needed to more effectively challenge healthcare industry layoffs and attacks on RN economic and professional standards and patient care conditions. It will also strengthen the ability of all direct care RNs to fight for real healthcare reform and advocate for improved patient care conditions and stronger patient safety legislation from coast to coast."

Today's agreement comes just three weeks after the announcement that CNA/NNOC, with 85,000 current members, will be uniting with the United American Nurses and the Massachusetts Nurses Union to form the largest RN union ever in the U.S. with 150,000 members. Steps to complete that unification are continuing.

Now, augmented by the joint campaigns with SEIU and its 2 million members, the creation of a much larger, stronger, national nurses union and RN movement, with sweeping implications for improving RN standards and patient care protections, is greatly hastened, said CNA/NNOC and SEIU today.

Among key elements of the pact:

  • The two unions will work together to organize non-union hospital workers throughout the country, with CNA/NNOC as the leading voice for RNs, and SEIU as the leading voice for all other hospital workers.
  • The unions will launch an intensive national organizing campaign with an initial focus on the nation's largest hospital systems.
  • In addition to organizing, SEIU and CNA/NNOC will coordinate on a broad range of other issues from bargaining with common employers to the campaign to enact the Employee Free Choice Act.
  • SEIU and CNA/NNOC publicly endorse measures that allow states to adopt single-payer health care systems.
  • Both parties will refrain from "raiding," seeking to displace the existing members of the other's organization, or from interference in the other's internal affairs.
  • The two unions will create a new joint RN organization in Florida to represent current and future RNs of both unions. In all other states, SEIU will continue to represent their current RN members in collective bargaining.
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SEIU, Michelle Ringuette, 202-341-7057
CNA/NNOC, Charles Idelson, 510-273-2246

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