The Service Employees International Union and California Nurses Assn. announced Thursday that they had ended their long-running feud and would now jointly organize employees at large medical facilities across the country.
The two groups have had some ugly turf battles over who ought to represent the nation's nurses, who remain largely unrepresented. Under the agreement, the CNA will represent nurses, while the SEIU will represent the other workers at facilities they organize. Current SEIU nurses will remain in that union, officials said.
"We are lining up to make sweeping changes to this country's broken healthcare system, and as we wait for the starting gun it is imperative that we put the past behind us and move forward by putting all healthcare workers in the strongest possible position to define reform, move legislation and make the new healthcare system operational," SEIU President Andy Stern said in a statement.
Rose Ann DeMoro, who heads the CNA, said that the new allegiance was crucial now that healthcare and labor law reform were on the president's agenda.
The agreement comes on the heels of the CNA's announcement last month that it would merge with two other nurses unions to form the largest single nurses union in the nation, United American Nurses-National Nurses Organizing Committee, with 150,000 members.
DeMoro said her goal is to create a single union that speaks for nurses, mirroring teachers and firefighters organizations. Only about 15% of the nation's nurses are represented by a union, she said.
She said her group and SEIU would initially focus their efforts at facilities owned by large national healthcare groups Tenet Healthcare Corp., HCA Inc. and Catholic Healthcare.
"Healthcare has reorganized itself, and this basically gives us the opportunity to mirror that," DeMoro said.