UNIONIZATION OF THE NURSES IN THE U.S.: WORKER POWER, AUTONOMY, AND LABOR DEMOCRACY

Authors


  • Herman Benson is a leader in the movement for labor union leadership reform and rank-and-file participation in the U.S., founder and current secretary of the Association for Union Democracy, a pro-labor, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the principles and practices of democratic trade unionism in the North American labor movement. He is a prolific author on rank-and-file activists and opposition to union corruption, including Rebels, Reformers, and Racketeers.

Herman Benson, Association for Union Democracy, 104 Montgomery Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11225, USA. Telephone: 011-718-564-1114. E-mail: hbenson@uniondemocracy.org.

Abstract

Registered nurses, professionals upon whom we depend so urgently for effective medical care, have been moving toward unionization. The formation of the new National Nurses United, which claims 150,00 members, proposes to unite nurses into a formidable force to represent them in collective bargaining, to organize to unorganized, and campaign for a progressive national healthcare policy. But a majority of those nurses who are already organized remain divided among a multitude of other unions, some affiliated to major internationals, some independent, some in competition with one another. One barrier to unity has been the fear of many nurse unionists that their rights would be imperiled in a centralized union which fails to respect the autonomous rights of its affiliates. The author suggests that any conflict between the desire for a strong central force and the insistence upon autonomous rights could be mitigated, even overcome, by a strong infusion of democracy into internal union life, not only among nurses but throughout the labor movement.

Ancillary