The Massachusetts Nurses Association has replaced its top leadership as the 20,000-member group again pursues breaking off from the national American Nurses Association.
The militant move by the nurses comes as Massachusetts hospitals face growing staff shortages--including nurses--tight reimbursement from both public and private payers, and consolidation of services.
At an action-packed Dec. 1 meeting, the board of the Canton, Mass.-based nurses group:
* Voted 9-4 to pursue disaffiliating from the ANA.
* Ousted their executive director and appointed a new one.
* Appointed new board members after the resignation of board President Karen Daley and four other board members, who voted against breaking away from the ANA.
The MNA board appointed Julie Pinkham, a registered nurse, as its new executive director. Pinkham, 39, has worked the past five years as director of the association's labor relations department.
Pinkham, a vocal proponent of splitting from the ANA, replaced Mary Manning, whom the board removed after five years on the job.
The Massachusetts Hospital Association is pledging to work with the MNA's new leadership. "There's still a fairly substantial common agenda between hospitals and organized nurses," said Andrew Dreyfus, executive vice president of the state hospital association.
Those common points include better training for nurses, increasing the supply of nurses and improving patient safety, Dreyfus said.
The nurses group's desire to split from the ANA is based largely on philosophical differences it has with the large national association, which represents unionized and nonunionized nurses and nurse managers.
The more activist MNA sees the ANA as too moderate and not vocal or aggressive enough in tackling issues that face nurses, such as staffing and mandatory overtime, said David Schildmeier, the MNA's director of public communications.
Pulling out of the ANA also would save the Massachusetts' nurses group more than $1 million in annual dues it pays to the ANA, Schildmeier said.
A previous attempt by the MNA to disaffiliate from the ANA failed last month when a vote by the full association narrowly failed to capture the two-thirds majority needed to change the bylaws and leave the ANA.
Manning, who could not be reached for comment, opposed breaking off from the ANA, said Susan Bianchi-Sand, director of the 100,000-member United American Nurses, the union arm of the ANA.
"It would appear they can't live with the democratic results of their own membership, that's what I think is going down," Bianchi-Sand said.
The Massachusetts nurses account for more than 10% of the ANA's 180,000 members.