Organizing: How it works

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Every day more nurses organize to join the national nurses movement, meaning that we finally can speak with a unified voice. When RNs join together, it gives us protection for our patients and our profession. In just 20 years, NNU has grown more than 415 percent.

Step 1: Building a nurse-to-nurse network

The first step is to educate yourself and your colleagues about NNOC/NNU and develop a network of RNs in every unit and shift who are interested in organizing. Copies of NNOC/NNU 101 should be distributed to RNs on nonwork time, such as breaks. Identify unit issues and explain how they can be addressed with an NNOC/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 NNOC/NNU card

When there is enough support, nurses will circulate NNOC/NNU authorization cards. Nurses should sign a card once they have had all their questions answered and have made a decision that they want NNOC/NNU representation. Signing a card does not make you an NNOC/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. NNOC/NNU representation begins once an election has been won by a simple majority. In some cases, voting may occur by a majority simply signing cards.

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 14 of NNOC/NNU 101 for details.