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Nurses’ Group Unites With AFL-CIO

June 28, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Representatives of the 100,000 members of United American Nurses voted unanimously Thursday to affiliate with the AFL-CIO in a quest for better pay and working conditions.

``You have not misplaced your trust and we’re going to be even better together,″ John J. Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a welcoming speech.

The union is the collective bargaining arm of the American Nursing Association and represents nurses in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

Mary Foley, president of the association, called the new partnership with the AFL-CIO good for nurses, patients and quality health care.

Sweeney said the vote paves the way for a strong alliance that can better cope with an array of problems.

He said these include rising health care costs, decreasing quality of care, and what he called a critical national shortage of nurses ``brought on by health care providers who would rather scour the world for cheaper labor than to invest in developing and maintaining a superior work force here at home.″

Sweeney, wearing a bright red T-shirt with a union logo, said the AFL-CIO will call a meeting of top nursing-union leaders in Washington this fall to collaborate on a strategy of mutual support and organizing.

``Health care executives, policy-makers and the news media are all talking about the critical nursing shortage and the fact that the profession has lost its popularity as a career choice for young women and men,″ Sweeney said at a news conference following his speech.

``But this is a staffing crisis which can be stopped by giving nurses better working conditions, recognition and respect for their professional expertise and appropriate compensation and benefits,″ he said.

``Hospitals need not look outside this country’s borders, but inside their own facilities to solve this shortage, and through their unions, nurses will help them do so,″ Sweeney said.

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