NOW on the News examines the "why" behind current headlines. This week David Brancaccio speaks to Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, about a new ruling that will stop some nurses from joining labor unions.
This week a federal panel issued a ruling that will exempt registered nurses from union membership if they have certain supervisory duties. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision -- which potentially has major implications for workers in other fields -- has drawn criticism from organized labor.
"We think this is deadly serious not just for registered nurses, and not just for the rest of the workers in America, but also for patients," Rose Ann DeMoro, head of the California Nurses Association, told David Brancaccio.
"The large corporations in American and the large HMOS don't like the fact that a registered nurse, who is the last line of defense for patients, can ultimately be in the way of economic decision-making." DeMoro told Brancaccio.
The former chairman of the NLRB, William Gould, also spoke out against the move. "This decision constitutes a flawed and erroneous interpretation," said Gould, who served on the NLRB in the 1990s. "It has the potential to harm the collective bargaining process."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the decision as providing "a good, clear standard" on which workers can serve as supervisors.
Millions At Risk
The ruling on Tuesday could also have consequences for workers in other industries. In their dissents, two NLRB members said millions of professionals who have some supervisory duties could be hurt by the ruling.
The decision "threatens to create a new class of workers under federal labor law: workers who have neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees," they wrote.
The decision is likely to be challenged before the Supreme Court.
About Rose Ann DeMoro
Rose Ann DeMoro has been characterized by The Los Angeles Times as "a 56-year-old, Missouri-born, Bruce Springsteen-loving executive director of the California Nurses Association." Some of DeMoro's detractors point out that she has never been a nurse.
Before joining the California Nurses Association (CNA) staff 19 years ago, DeMoro organized Hollywood producers for the Teamsters. As head of the CNA she has presided over an increase in membership when many unions have seen dropping numbers -- tripling its membership over the past 13 years. The Association currently represents over 60,000 nurses -- 45 percent of hospital nurses in California.
Modern Healthcare named DeMoro one of the "Top 25 Women in Healthcare," last year citing CNA's leading role in public policy, passage of the landmark law requiring safe nurse staffing in hospitals, and other achievements for nurses and patients.