Why are we talking about the NNU? For a reason the MNA has not mentioned to you: every member of the MNA must also become a member of the NNU.
The National Nurses United is a national nursing union that was formed in 2009. The MNA was one of three founding members of the NNU, along with the California Nurses Association (CNA), and the United American Nurses. The CNA is by far the largest of these three organizations. Today, the CNA has more than 86,000 members while the MNA has just 23,000.
The NNU’s Constitution and Bylaws provide that all MNA members are NNU members. Therefore, all MNA members are bound by the rules in the NNU’s Constitution and Bylaws and are subject to sanctions if they fail to follow them, even if you have not seen them or heard of them. The CNA represents almost half of the NNU's total membership. As it is so much bigger than the MNA, the CNA selects seven members of the NNU's Executive Council — one half of the council — while the MNA selects only two members. This means the MNA cannot set NNU policy.
So, what kind of an organization is a nurse joining if they become a member of the NNU by virtue of their MNA membership? First, that nurse would be joining an ultra-militant union that has held nursing strikes at several hospitals around the country. In fact, the NNU held a one-day strike at nine hospitals in California on Christmas Eve. Second, the nurse would be joining a union with close to 185,000 members across the country. With only 23,000 members, the MNA does not have much of a voice in setting the NNU’s agenda. Finally, the nurse would become a member of a union that trumpets as one of its highest accomplishments the staffing law in California. If that law is such a success for nurses, why did he NNU have nurses picketing at 21 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in California protesting inadequate nurse staffing in December 2012?
Bigger isn’t always better. In fact, in this instance, it’s worse. The NNU’s failures are even bigger on the national stage than the MNA’s are here in Massachusetts.
Summary of selected provisions of the National Nurses United Constitution
We are providing you information about the National Nurses United Constitution because all MNA members must become members of the NNU. With only 23,000 members, the MNA members make up a small minority of the NNU’s membership of close to 185,000 members. This page summarizes selected provisions of the National Nurses United’s Constitution (dated February 11, 2010, which is the most recent version available). All MNA members must follow the rules in this constitution as well as the rules in the MNA’s bylaws. You can see a copy of the full constitution with the following sections highlighted here.
Page 2, Article II.A.1-2. Any nurse who is a member in good standing of the MNA shall become a member of the NNU. MNA membership equals NNU membership regardless of whether the nurse is interested in the NNU.
Page 3, Article II.A.5. All NNU members must comply with the NNU Constitution and published NNU policies. Because all MNA members are NNU members, they need to be aware of their obligations under the NNU Constitution as well as the MNA bylaws.
Page 3, Article II.A.6 and Page 18, Articles VIII.A.1 and VIII.D.2. All NNU members are prohibited from violating the NNU Constitution or published NNU policies and from committing any act detrimental or injurious to the NNU or its members.
Page 4, Article III.B.2. The MNA must ensure that its members become members of the NNU. The MNA is responsible for bolstering the ranks of NNU members.
Pages 4-5, Article IV.A and Pages 8-9, Article V.A-B. The NNU’s Executive Council has authority over the NNU’s general direction and business affairs, including hearing appeals from decisions of the Hearing Panel on charges filed against one NNU member by another NNU member (see Page 18, Article VIII.A-B below regarding charges).
The MNA selects only two of the fourteen Executive Council members, while the California Nurses Association selects seven members - half of the council, and other affiliates select the remaining five members. Therefore the fate of an MNA nurse charged with violating the NNU's Constitution or policies could be decided by a body whose majority is from outside of Massachusetts.
Pages 10-11, Article VI.B-C. The NNU Convention is the highest governing body of the NNU and its decisions are final and binding. The NNU Convention’s authority includes the authority to interpret and amend the NNU Constitution, establish dues, and levy special assessments. The MNA does not control the NNU Convention.
Pages 10-11, Article VI.A-C and Page 14, Article VI.H. The NNU Convention consists of the NNU Executive Council and delegates selected by each NNU Affiliate. Decisions on all questions brought before the NNU Convention are decided by a majority vote of the delegates unless otherwise specifically stipulated in the NNU Constitution or in rules adopted by the Convention.
As a result of this formula, the MNA could only carry an NNU Convention vote with the support of delegates from other NNU affiliates. By way of illustration, each NNU Affiliate is entitled to at least one delegate at the convention and receives one additional delegate for each block and part thereof of 1000 members. According to the LM-2 reports filed by the MNA and the California Nurses Association, both NNU affiliates, in 2011, the MNA had 20,411 members while the California Nurses Association had 85,874 members.
Accordingly, based on those numbers, the MNA would have 22 delegates and the California Nurses Association would have 93 delegates (adding the members of the executive council to the one delegate/1000 members).
Page 18, Article VIII.A-B. Any member of the NNU can bring a charge against another NNU member for violating the NNU Constitution or published NNU policy, or for doing any act detrimental or injurious to the NNU or its members. Such charges are heard by a three-member Hearing Panel appointed by the Executive Council - half of the Executive Council is appointed by the California Nurses Association while the MNA selects only two members of the Executive Council.
Therefore, the fate of an MNA-represented nurse charged with an offense by another NNU member will be decided by a council whose majority was selected by unions other than the MNA.