It seems every 6 months or so we are getting news of another union merger or organizing agreement between unions. This time, it is the California Nurses Association (CNA)/National Nurses Organizing Committee, United American Nurses and Massachusetts Nurses Association who have agreed to merge.
The California Nurses Association has been forming joint-venture partnerships with other unions for many years which included two agreements with the SEIU. I personally put together the CNA/USWA agreement and got to see firsthand their drive to increase their membership. The CNA keeps talking about patient care and patient rights and how they are fighting for the patient but behind the scenes the only concern I ever witnessed was for the collection of membership dues. Not once have I had, or heard of, conversations where the hospital, patient or staff problems were a real concern. We targeted hospitals all over the country and we never once worried about anything but collecting dues.
The AFL/CIO has been losing money and membership since the formation of the Change to Win Coalition (lead by Andy Stern) which was quickly supported by James Hoffa Jr. who was looking for a way to avoid paying millions of dollars in overdue per capita fees. Since then, the Change to Win Coalition and AFL/CIO has been in a struggle to organize new members and have been focusing mainly on healthcare workers. The potential growth of union dues in the healthcare industry is between 3.3 to 4.4 billion dollars a year. Since the SEIU is one of the fastest growing unions and the majority of their new members are employed in healthcare the AFL/CIO was in danger of losing much of their clout.
John Sweeney set out to attack the SEIU by bringing the California Nurses Association under the umbrella of the AFL/CIO and Stern responded by having their organizers physically attack the CNA at a labor notes convention in Dearborn, Michigan which led to both unions raiding each other’s organizing drives. The publicity the unions were getting was hurting their cause so the AFL/CIO, CNA and the SEIU agreed to work together in organizing America’s healthcare workers.
The self described Super Union merger or National Nurses United union is going to heat up the healthcare organizing wars once again. High ranking internal sources within the AFL/CIO have confirmed the strategy is to be very aggressive.
The new union spokespersons are attacking the SEIU, American Nurses Association, Hospital management, HMOs and anyone else they can fit in their sights. They have stated that “the ANA is too friendly with hospital management and they should be “at war with them not in bed with them.” AFL/CIO official sources have also confirmed that they intend on implementing an aggressive organizing department that will at first target nontraditional organizing states. Our source also state they have started establishing organizing teams in 15 states in anticipation of a merger including, but not restricted to, Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas, and the southern states while still going after traditional organizing states. An outgoing aid to John Sweeney said they are going to attack these states with a furry they have never seen before; the AFL/CIO feels that there is a goldmine of potential union members in these states and their time has come.
The result of the new “Super Union”, National Nurses United is a return to the hostilities from last year and an increase in union raiding in organizing drives and contract expirations.
The cost of this turf war will affect everyone; the average cost of unions in the best circumstances is between 17% and 21.5 %. Many hospitals exist on a 3% or 4% profit margin.
Unions are ready to fight it out on the hospital floor, cafeterias and parking lots. How is this good for the patient, community, hospital or employee? It isn’t!
At the AFL/CIO convention held on 9/14/09, Richard Trumka, (whose claim to fame is from being president of the International Mine Workers and taking over and holding hostage the mines) is going to take over from John Sweeney as president of the organization this week and has stated that “this new Super Union is a new front on the war to organize the nation’s healthcare workers and we are taking the battle to the enemy”.
Union organizing efforts are not going away anytime soon. They are run like a big business empire and have the financial backbone to continue trying to grow. Permanent Solutions has the experience and knowledge to prepare your organization for battle with the union. We offer training and consultancy programs to assist you with all union issues. Contact us today to see what Permanent Solutions can do for you.