San Diego Veterans Administration Nurses Vote by 78% to Join Largest RN Union

National Nurses United

National Nurses United Press Release, 10/10/14

In a 78 percent landslide, registered nurses who work in the large Veterans Administration hospital in San Diego have voted to join the nation’s largest organization of nurses, National Nurses United. 349-97

In an emphatic and decisive voice, the RNs voted for union representation by NNU by 349 to 97 in an election conducted by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which oversees collective bargaining for federal employees.

NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro enthusiastically greeted the San Diego VA RNs for taking the critical step of joining with NNU members in VA facilities and other hospitals across the U.S. as part of a growing national nurses movement.

Noting the current Ebola crisis, DeMoro said, “in in a world of pandemics, lack of preparation in hospitals, the San Diego VA nurses are examples of what it means to fight for themselves and their patients.  We welcome them to the NNU!”

“I am so proud of our VA nurses,” added Irma Westmoreland, NNU’s National VA chair.  “Our VA nurses are always there for veterans.  And now they have an organization that will always be there for them.”

Following the vote, San Diego VA RNs celebrated their achievement.

“This will allow us to give the very best care to our vets,” said RNs Nury Cubillos and Deb Rice in a joint statement. “It is essential we have the ability to make critical decisions and advocate on their behalf without fear of reprisal. That’s why we voted ‘yes’.”

“For years administration ignored us when we told them what patient care resources we needed,” said John Lallo, RN. “We voted ‘yes’ for guaranteed patient care improvements in writing.”

“I’ve been a SDVA ICU (intensive care unit) RN for 25 years,” noted Carla Melgun, RN. “My patients deserve safe and consistent care. Nurses should be trained and oriented before floating elsewhere, among other issues. That’s what our union will address.” (Floating refers to RNs being assigned to work in clinical areas outside their professional expertise.)

The election win brings a collective voice and representation to nearly 700 RNs at VA San Diego Hospital and seven clinics around San Diego. Nationally, NNU now represents 10,000 VA RNs at 23 VA hospitals from California to New York.

Overall, NNU is the voice of some 187,000 RNs across the U.S. Among them are the 85,000 members of the California Nurses Association, California’s largest RN organization which also represents nurses at the Thornton campus of the University of California San Diego Medical Center which is adjacent to the San Diego VA hospital. Within San Diego County, CNA and NNU now have nearly 7,000 members.

VA San Diego RNs say they want to join NNU to have the collective strength to safely advocate for their patients without fear of retaliation, staffing based on the acuity of the patient, and other patient care and workplace improvements. They filed for a union election in March.

The RNs say improved care is critical to assuring that American men and women who provide service for their country receive the safe care they deserve and need.

Thanks to club members who wrote letters and turned up to join the rally on October 2. 👍

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