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National Federation of Nurses to Join Teachers’ Union

Rosenberg, Karen

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: May 2013 - Volume 113 - Issue 5 - p 16
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000430220.83950.21
In the News

Affiliation strengthens advocacy, political clout.

Leaders of the National Federation of Nurses (NFN) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have approved an affiliation agreement that will bring 34,000 nurses into the ranks of the AFT. The teachers’ union currently includes more than 48,000 nurses among its 1.5 million members.

As NFN president Barbara Crane told AJN, “a strong voice for nurses is especially important in this time of transition, when America's health care system is being redesigned.” Partnership with the AFT, she predicts, will enhance staff nurses’ professional influence through collective bargaining.

The NFN is active in Montana, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington State. The affiliation agreement, which must be ratified by the NFN's state organizations, maintains the NFN's autonomy and structure, and the NFN's constituents will continue membership in their state and national organizations, as well as in the American Nurses Association (ANA).

The move is “something to celebrate,” said Susan King, executive director of the Oregon Nurses Association, in a statement to AJN, who called it “a watershed moment for RNs across the country.” She explained that by joining forces with the AFT, the NFN will have greater resources to navigate changes in health care and more opportunities for patient advocacy.

The move also has the backing of the ANA. President Karen A. Daley said that “the affiliation will strengthen [the NFN's] collective voice on a range of policy issues, including health and labor policy, and provide access to resources and support to advance their efforts to improve the workplace and the quality of care.”

Jean Ross, copresident of National Nurses United (NNU), which has sparred with the NFN over membership in the past, however, called the move “surprising.” She told AJN that “nurses do better when they are together with other nurses.” Although all workers have certain issues in common, she explained, “when it comes to licensure and what goes on in the hospital and the specific things we need for safe patient care, only nurses truly understand.”

Nonetheless, maintained Crane in an ANA press release, the AFT is “the right partner at the right time” to help the NFN grow and achieve its goals.—Karen Rosenberg

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.