WASHINGTON—The Ohio Nurses Association approved a historic affiliation agreement with the AFT, the largest union of professionals in the AFL-CIO. The action today in Columbus, Ohio, comes after the boards of the National Federation of Nurses, the Washington State Nurses Association and the Montana Nurses Association agreed last month to affiliate with the AFT.
"Strengthening the voice of nurses in Ohio strengthens the care nurses are able to provide for their patients," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "This historic partnership ensures that these nurses are able to keep the respect and dignity their life-saving work entitles them to. Ohio's nurses are a good fit with our 1.5 million AFT members who devote their lives to making a difference every day for the patients, students and others they serve in their communities."
Kelly Trautner, deputy executive officer for the ONA, said the fast-paced changes of the healthcare industry require that nurses on the front lines have the ability to speak up on behalf of their patients.
"Whether in Columbus or on Capitol Hill, nurses stand for quality care, for high standards and for improved working conditions," Trautner said. "The legislative and regulatory reach of the largest union of professionals in the AFL-CIO amplifies our voice and better prepares us for the many challenges we face. When that happens, patients are the ultimate winners."
Just a month ago, the 34,000-member National Federation of Nurses announced that its board had approved affiliation with the AFT, whose 1.5 million members include 48,000 nurses. The NFN is active in Montana, Ohio, Oregon and Washington state.
The executive board of the 11,577-member Washington State Nurses Association voted Feb. 16 to affiliate with the AFT, followed by the 2,175-member Montana Nurses Association on Feb. 22. Tomorrow, the state NFN organization in Oregon will conduct its own formal ratification process.
"Nurses across the country are uniting their voices not only to address rapid changes in the healthcare industry, but also to deal with the effective implementation of the Affordable Care Act," Weingarten said. "These affiliations by respected organizations represent a vote of confidence in the AFT as a union with a proven track record of standing up for professionals."
Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, welcomed the more than 8,900 ONA members into the AFT. "Nurses, like teachers and other public employees, are committed to quality services and professional standards that make our communities stronger. We are pleased that Ohio's nurses have chosen to become part of the AFT family," she said.
Already in Ohio, the ONA and the AFT have been working together to try to end the contract impasse involving nurses at the Northside Medical Center hospital in Youngstown.