This is a long post.
Are you a member of a nursing professional association? If not, I am not surprised. If you follow this blog, you know I am a member of the American Nurses Association and Ohio Nurses Association however this may change after the ANA House of Delegates in June 2008.
The ANA House of Delegates provides direction to the ANA Board of Directors (or is it the other way around?) on the priorities and issues of the Association and the profession.
For the first time in my nursing career, I am considering whether or not to keep my membership in the American Nurses Association, Ohio Nurses Association, and the Southwestern Ohio Nurses Association. Its not about the dues for me, its the current and underlying turmoil with the American Nurses Association, Center for American Nurses, the United American Nurses, and State Nursing Associations.
I support the American Bar Association, not because I personally agree with all of its positions and statement. I support the ABA because it advocates for lawyers, the provision of legal services, and the rule of law. I also really like the ABA section membership publications for law practice management and solo practitioners.
I don't know if I can continue to support the American Nurses Association and the Ohio Nurses Association because of the infighting between the ANA, State Nurses Associations, the United American Nurses, and the Center for American Nurses.
I am a former Board member of the Center for American Nurses. I support and stand by the work of the Center because its relevant and needed for not only non-union nurses but it can also help union nurses. As a nurse attorney who represents individual nurses, I receive phone calls and emails from nurses, the majority of which are non-union, who need workplace support and assistance. Even with union nurses, the union assists with issues relative only to the collective bargaining agreement and these nurses need assistance.
Also my disgust with the ANA Enterprise issues involves the lack of workplace advocacy support in the Ohio Nurses Association for 2,000+ non-union nurses who support ONA but are not being serviced with state-based workplace advocacy services and products. I am one of those 2,000+ nurses non-union nurses who continue to belong and support the Ohio Nurses Association, although the majority of ONA's membership is collective bargaining and its the collective bargaining arm that uses the majority, if not nearly all of ONA's resources. There has to be a balance and as of today, in my opinion there isn't a balance.
Workplace Advocacy (non-union), Collective Bargaining (union), employment contracts, etc. are all tools for surviving and thriving in today's highly regulated workplace. Why are we still fighting? One tool isn't better than the other tool; multiple tools are needed, not just one tool.
The majority of nurses in the United States work in non-union and workplace advocacy settings. There are more than 3 million nurses (RNs, LPN, LVNs) in the United States and the majority of these nurses work in non-union environments; this is a fact.
In my opinion, I don't see these number shifting dramatically. It cost lots of money to organize a facility and most state nurses associations including the Ohio Nurses Association are not flush with cash to organize the masses and persuade nurses to join a union. A nursing strike in a state nurses association literally pushes the association to point of bankruptcy and financial ruin. http://www.kentucky-nurses.org/. Review the article that discusses how the Kentucky Nurses Association and its union are parting ways.
Also union membership for nurses is typically tied to an organization. Gone are the days when the majority of nurses would start and finish their nursing career in one facility. You can be employed as a nurse in a union facility today and change positions next week and work in a non-union facility. Portability of licensure is the key.
Workplace advocacy support is needed and so is collective bargaining support. Non-union and workplace advocacy and collective bargaining can co-exist however I am not sure if it should be in the same association.
What do you think? Should State Nursing Associations exist purely as professional associations? Should State Nursing Associations exists as "blended" organizations, i.e. a professional association and a union? Should state nursing associations with the heavy or the majority of union membership convert to a union only status and focus only on the union activities?
There are 200,000 nurses (LPNs and RNs) in Ohio and in my opinion, the majority (50% or more) of these nurses will never be organized. Yes, I said it. The majority of Ohio's nurses will never be organized in a union. Its just not going to happen; look at the statistics, information, and the literature. ONA, which is a union and a professional association represents 6,000 via a union and 2,000 non-union. Also here, Ohio is a hotbed of union activity. We have the SEIU, NNOC, and Ohio Nurses Association here among others.
Also another thing that turns my stomach is how easy it is for nurses in one group/association/union (ANA enterprise) to say "we don't like those nurses" in this group/association/union (SEIU or CNA/NNOC) and vice versa. That's silly. We are all nurses and I don't say that I dislike a nurse because she supports the CNA/NNOC or the SEIU.
Depending on the outcome of the ANA House of Delegates in June 2008, I will drop my membership in the American Nurses Association, Ohio Nurses Association, and Southwestern Ohio Nurses Association. I will also resign from the ANA Congress for Nursing Practice & Economics also.
I will remain a member of the Center for American Nurses and join as an individual member. I will continue my membership in TAANA, The American Association of Nurse Attorneys. I may consider joining the Kentucky Nurses Association. Why?
This is my blog and this is my opinion. I think the KNA Board made a choice that most State Nursing Association Boards don't want to consider or make. I applaud the KNA Board for making a choice. The KNA is splitting the professional association and the union. Some state nursing association executive directors and board members are happy and content to ride the fence although fence riding may not be in the best interest of the professional association, the union, and nurses in the state. Are some marriages just unhealthy?
Most executive and management level nursing professional association staff and the elected Boards are baby boomers. I have nothing against baby boomers (of course; the majority of my law firm clients are baby boomers) however in 15-20 years, I think and I am hoping the antiquated business and goverance models seen in some nursing professional associations today will be a thing of the past when Generation X and Y nurses manage and sit on the Board's of nursing professional associations. I am a Gen Xer if you haven't already guessed.
The union vs. non-union debate is "played out" just like the entry level to practice in nursing debacle and the RN vs. LPN issue. Why are we still infighting about the same issues considering the state of healthcare and the nursing workplace?
Most professional association staff and board members when asked "why don't nurses support your organization" have a multitude of answers and convoluted rationale for explaining the extremely low numbers. HINT. The problem is the professional association itself not the nurses who don't join professional associations.