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California Nurses Association/National Nurses United Constitution and ByLaws (CBLs) Comparative Review of Changes Over Time

Filing number with Office of Labor Management Standards: 015-724 — LINK TO EVIDENCE FILE

Tl:dr analysis, thus far: In 1995, the American Nurses Association was purged from CNA’s governing documentation. In 1999, many of the pieces of the CBLs that created and governed autonomously organized and administered groups of nurses by region were removed. Including the dissolution of Regional Associations, the Presidents’ Committee, and the Congress on Economic and General Welfare. However, The House of Delegates, the governing body of CNA, remained intact at this time.  In 2011, CNA submitted an officer listing to OLMS.

It wouldn’t be until 2017 that an amended, un-annotated, set of CBL documents would be submitted again with more significant organizational changes. These include, striking the Articles of Incorporation under California state law and going ‘national’ elsewhere in the language changes. These changes free CNA of stricter obligations under state law. Changes were also made to define CNA differently, to include the pseudonyms of NNOC & NNU. They introduced the language of “compatible social and economic justice program activities” to the end of the purpose and dues expenditures sections (freeing them from the strictures of nurse/health related spending). New language governing “Affiliations” was introduced. Presumably, this language now governs the replacement structure for “Local Units'' within the “Congress of Economic and General Welfare,” (for participatory political and social justice nurse leadership) and “regional associations” formerly comprised within the House of Delegates (now called “Convention”) and elsewhere, both of these bodies rank and file nurses directly elected to them and given real control over resources with local autonomy.

Newly introduced language related to “Affiliations” now gives the CNA Board near total discretion in determining whether to proceed with an affiliation. An affiliate negotiates financial terms and transactions with CNA and subsequent agreements are in writing and ratified by the CNA Board, exclusively. The language in the Membership Article (3) related to affiliated organizations was changed to remove the requirements of needing registered nurse representatives composing a governing body of the affiliation. In addition, language was introduced that gives the CNA Board of Directors the power to designate “special members” to have the same rights as members in good standing under the Bylaws. The “Council of Presidents” is now established in place of all the CBL language governing the former titles of “president” and “vice-president.” This Council is pitched twofold. One, as a needed change due to the increased “high public profile” of the Union. Two, as a solution to individual leader decision making, by establishing a 4-person council where once there was a traditional structure of president and vice-president, elected by the Board. This revolutionary four-person council that will un-silo decision making is given near absolute authority to make decisions, and speak on behalf of, represented nurses/affiliates/etc.

The reality of the language is that it un-ties these four leaders from any obligation to nurse’s input (rank and file delegates & other leaders, even the Board) prior to making an existential or financial decision about the direction of the union and its resource allocation, that is, outside of their own circle of four (and, potentially, professional union staff ‘advice’). Councils were removed entirely from the CBL. The House of Delegates was completely replaced by “Convention.” Also included in the 2017 amendments to the CBL documents for CNA, was a removal of the terms of office limitations for all elected officers. Additionally, in the same “Titled Officers” Article, new language was added to the “Vacancies” sections making it so that, “In making these appointments (to vacated Board seats), the Board shall first consider current members of the Board.” Under the 2017 “Directors” Article, the basis for determining the number of directors on the board was changed from ‘the same number of directors for the number of regions’ to ‘The number of directors on the Board from each region will be based on the facility based sub groupings within the region.’ These sub groupings go undefined.