Complaining that the American Nurses Association is too moderate, nurses' associations in Maine and Massachusetts late last month voted by large margins to leave the national group, becoming the first and second state nurses' associations to do so since 1995.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association on April 30 completed court-ordered absentee balloting that resulted in a final vote of 3,105-656 to split from the ANA.
At a special meeting in March, members of the group had voted 1,925-413 to secede. But in response to a suit filed by three nurses, a federal judge ordered the association to make provisions for members who couldn't attend the special meeting because of work or religious observances.
A status hearing on the three nurses' lawsuit is scheduled for May 10. However, David Schildmeier, a spokesman for the Massachusetts nurses' group, said association officials consider the latest vote to be final.
Meanwhile, members of the Maine State Nurses Association on April 28 voted 259-31 to disaffiliate from the ANA.
"The ANA is taking a different direction and course of action than what Maine nurses want," said Patricia Philbrook, executive director of the Maine association, which represents 1,600 nurses.
An ANA spokeswoman could not be reached for comment by deadline.
The last state association to fully split from the ANA was the 20,000-member California Nurses Association in 1995. Since then, the CNA has proven to be one of the nation's most aggressive nurses' lobbies.
In following suit, the Massachusetts association takes not only its 20,000 members from the ANA but also $1 million in annual dues. The departure of the Maine association will be less painful financially for the ANA. The Maine association paid the ANA $115,000 in dues in 2000.