The UAN, a legally separate offshoot of the ANA and an AFL-CIO affiliate, blasted the decisions as harmful to the ability of nurses to have a powerful national voice. “By splitting, leaders in these four states are abandoning a coordinated, powerful national staff nurse voice—which is exactly what is needed right now to fix our healthcare system,” said Susan Bianchi-Sand, national executive director of UAN, in a written statement.
The UAN's president, Cheryl Johnson, died on Oct. 28, 2007, of a ruptured brain aneurysm. Per the UAN constitution, UAN Vice President Ann Converso is now president. Her term will be up for election at the next National Labor Assembly, which is March 9-10, according to UAN spokeswoman Suzanne Martin.
Tina Gerardi, chief executive officer of the New York association, said in an interview that she wanted reassurances that merger discussions with the SEIU will not restart because “many of our members don't want to have anything to do with the SEIU at this time.”
Scott Palmer, spokesman for the Oregon association, said that the UAN's leadership failed to follow the direction of its state association members with regard to the SEIU. “We're the members,” Palmer said. “We made our concerns known to the elected leaders of the UAN, and they disregarded those concerns.”
The SEIU led a controversial push among AFL-CIO members to consolidate within industries—bringing all healthcare workers under a single, industry-specific union, for example—and eventually bolted the federation to form its own coalition of unions. The SEIU and the UAN agreed shortly thereafter that they wouldn't try to poach members from each other and would work jointly in some cities to recruit workers to their respective unions.
Gerardi said that the New York association also wanted to fire the UAN's director and law firm—Gerardi declined to explain why in both cases—and conduct a financial audit. While there are no suspicions of financial mismanagement, Gerardi said, “We want to know how our money has been utilized over the past three years.”
Palmer added that the UAN was inflexible in its dealings with the Oregon association. For example, the Oregon group elects even its full-time staff members and wanted them to be able to speak on the association's behalf at national meetings, but the UAN would recognize only elected leadership positions, not executive directors, Palmer said.