National Federation of Nurses merges with teacher’s union

The National Federation of Nurses (NFN) has voted to merge its efforts with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), hoping to gain more leverage for nurses at the bargaining table.

Founded in 2008, the National Federation of Nurses represents some 34,000 nurses in four states. The group realized it had to partner with a larger union in order to be heard, Barbara Crane, NFN’s president, told the New York Times Wednesday.

ATF President Randi Weingarten sees a natural similarity in the two groups. “Both educators and nurses are nurturers. This partnership solidifies the unity between those who nurture body and mind—those who heal our communities with those who educate our children,” Weingarten said in an AFT release. “But nurturers need muscle to advocate on behalf of the students and patients they serve.”

But merging with the 1.5-million-member teacher’s union instead of joining forces with other nurses has drawn criticism from some nursing groups. “We believe that nurses and patients are better served when nurses are in a union that understands nurses and just serves nurses,” Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United, told the New York Times. The National Nurses United union has a membership of 185,000, but has had historic disagreements with the much-smaller NFN.

“A strong voice for nurses is particularly important now in this time of transition when America's healthcare system is being redesigned,” NFN’s President Crane said in the AFT release. “Nurses are the most trusted healthcare providers, and this new partnership with the AFT will enable us to continue to be the voice for the patients we serve.”

The new relationship will make the NFN part of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

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