Ed Bruno is the national organizing coordinator for the National Nurses Organizing Committee, a labor union founded by the California Nurses Association in 2004. Currently, the NNOC is on the ground in
Seth Sandronsky: What led the NNOC to organize new members in Texas?
Ed Bruno: The effort by NNOC, a national organizing committee founded and funded by the CNA, is best understood as Texas nurses joining NNOC in an effort to build organization in Texas and do their part to build a new national organization by and for RNs.
SS: Where are you organizing in
SS: How does CNA get its message out?
EB: RN-to-RN. We do not chase after the nurses. NNOC provides reading materials that reflect what we think is the conditions in the hospitals in regards to patient care and RN standards and working conditions. Nurses pass it from one to another. We will often help them by mailing the materials to nurse registries. RNs join individually and pay $30 a year in dues. They must take the initiative; membership is voluntary. NNOC was conceived as a national organizing committee and it still is a committee of the best, strongest, and most committed RNs.
SS: Who is most (and least) receptive to NNOC’s organizing in
EB: Our focus is on acute care hospital nurses for that is the focal point for our health care system and where most RNs work. All kinds of nurses join NNOC, private and public sector, hospital and non-hospital. Much of the membership is nurses with some years of experience at the bedside.
SS: What is the main issue involved in the NNOC’s
EB: First and foremost is the need for organization — both advocacy organization and union organization. Nurses know they have been silent and unorganized but vital to the operation of the hospitals and delivery of health care. So that is the first motivation. After that — mandated staffing ratios, freedom to act as patient advocates independent of the interests of the employers, low pay, lack of retirement, and protection against retribution by hospitals for carrying out nurse duties.
SS: Where do things go from
EB: NNOC is actively organizing is a number of states and has membership in all 50 states.
Seth Sandronsky lives and writes in