New National Nurses Labor Union Forms

By Staff Report

Dec. 8, 2009

A new national union of as many as 154,000 registered nurses was created in Phoenix on Monday, December 7, replacing one of the most aggressive nurse unions in the industry and combining its membership with two other nurse-only labor groups to form National Nurses United.

The 134 delegates at the NNU founding convention at the Phoenix Convention Center voted unanimously in favor of creating the new organization, which combines the hard-charging California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee with the Massachusetts Nurses Association and some members of the United American Nurses.

“I think the debate over health care [reform] probably finally pushed us to get here, but it’s something that we should have done a long time ago and it’s thrilling that we’re finally doing it,” Karen Higgins, a staff nurse at Boston Medical Center and co-president of the NNU, said in a phone call from the Phoenix convention floor.

The NNU will be governed by three co-presidents drawn from the three founding organizations.

The Massachusetts group brings 23,000 members, the UAN brings as many as 45,000, and the CNA/NNOC includes 86,000 nurses. Higgins said the three-member presidency was formed as “an equal partnership.”

It’s not clear how the NNU might be affected by pending lawsuits in U.S. district courts in Chicago and Baltimore that seek to block the breakup of UAN. Judges have not yet ruled on those lawsuits.

Filed by Joe Carlson of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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