The American Medical Association's board of trustees has approved funding of about $600,000 for its beleaguered labor union, ensuring its existence at least through 2003, officials said.
The 21-member board agreed to the funding late last month, reversing its controversial decision in April to reject a loan request of $1.6 million from Physicians for Responsible Negotiation, the struggling union group created about three years ago. PRN faced almost certain shutdown after the board rejected the request for additional funding.
But board members changed their minds in the face of overwhelming support for the union from the AMA's House of Delegates, which unanimously approved a resolution at its annual meeting in mid-June calling for continued funding for PRN. Supporters argued the board could not have expected the fledgling group to start paying its own way so soon after it was formed.
Union officials said the loan will fund scaled-back operations through the end of next year, allowing PRN to continue its work on two pending disputes before the National Labor Relations Board in Washington. One case with significant implications for the union involves an effort to unionize about 170 residents at 566-bed Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., a Chicago suburb.
Since its creation in late 1999, PRN has received more than $3 million in funding from the Chicago-based AMA. It has organized just 38 physicians, but claims about 250 individual and institutional members.
The loan approved is $211,000 less than union officials had requested in a revised budget presented to the board in June.