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Organizing 101 — How it Works

DeAnn McEwen, RN

Every day more nurses organize to join the national nurses movement, meaning that we finally can speak with a unified voice. In the past, RNs were divided and susceptible to intimidation from hospital management. When RNs join together, it gives us protection for our patients and our profession. In just 15 years, CNA/NNU has grown more than 400 percent, and we’re just getting started.

DeAnn McEwen, RN, CNA ­­­­Council of Presidents
Long Beach Memorial Medical Center — Long Beach, California

Step 1

Building a Nurse-to-Nurse Network

The first step is to educate yourself and your colleagues about CNA/NNU and develop a network of RNs in every unit and shift who are interested in organizing. Copies of CNA/NNU 101 should be distributed to RNs on non-work time, such as breaks. Identify unit issues and explain how they can be addressed with a CNA/NNU contract. You will also make links with nurses on other units, which is the basis for building a professional organization in your facility. Informational meetings are a vital part of this beginning period.

Step 2

The CNA/NNU Card

When there is enough support, nurses will circulate CNA/NNU authorization cards. Nurses should sign a card once they have had all their questions answered and have made a decision that they want CNA/NNU representation. Signing a card does not make you a CNA/NNU member or commit you to pay dues. Your employer is not allowed to see the cards.

Step 3

The Election

Once a strong majority of RNs has signed cards, they are given to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that governs union elections, or other appropriate agency that conducts a formal election by secret ballot. Your employer does not know how you vote. CNA/NNU representation begins once an election has been won by a simple majority.

Step 4

Bargaining Your First Contract

Once you win an election, your employer can no longer change existing practices without bargaining with you first. Nurses win the best contracts when they are well organized, unified, and committed to strong participation in their negotiations. See page 11 for details.