The following is a letter to members of the Registered Nurses’ Union (RNU) Newfoundland & Labrador from President Debbie Forward regarding the union’s decision to join the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour.
Hello RNU Members,
I hope you are enjoying your summer and were able to get some time off to refresh and recharge. I am looking forward to a few weeks of R & R in August.
August is also the month of a new partnership for RNU. I’m excited to announce that your Board of Directors has made the decision to join the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL), effective August 1st.
While we’ve partnered with the NLFL on many causes throughout the years, I’m proud RNU has officially become a member of this progressive and powerful voice of labour in our province.
What is the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour?
The NLFL has represented union members and workers in our province since 1936.
Just as Registered Nurses (RNs) united in our union to protect their rights, so also do unions unite in central labour bodies to fight for better working and living conditions. The NLFL is the province’s “house of labour” and serves as an umbrella group for working people and their unions.
The NLFL is made up of nearly 30 affiliated unions. This includes public sector unions you may be familiar with such as NAPE and CUPE, as well as private sector unions such as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The NLFL represents more than 65,000 working women and men from every sector of our economy and from every community in our province.
The NLFL pushes for legislative change in every area that affects people’s daily lives, including universal health care, workplace safety, minimum wage and other employment standards, human rights, women’s rights, and workers’ compensation. It also makes regular presentations and submissions to the Newfoundland and Labrador government and mounts awareness campaigns to mobilize the kind of political pressure that secures positive change for all workers – whether or not they belong to a union.
Why is the Registered Nurses’ Union joining?
There are several reasons we are joining NLFL.
To start, it makes sense for our organization. The NLFL have been instrumental in advocating and moving forward causes and issues that matter to RNs and our union. Recently, this includes work on issues like workplace violence, occupational health and safety, workers’ compensation, and post-traumatic stress disorder legislation. There is strength in numbers. Adding the voice of Registered Nurses will inform and strengthen NLFL’s advocacy work.
Another reason we are joining is because membership in the provincial federation of labour is a requirement under the constitution of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). We have been a member of CLC for a long time. However, we have not been following the CLC Constitution. This compliance issue was recently raised with your Board of Directors by our national president.
The President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions (CFNU) Linda Silas encouraged RNU, along with the PEI Nurses’ Union and Manitoba Nurses Union, to join the federation of labour and bring all CFNU affiliates in compliance with the CLC Constitution. The other provincial nurses’ unions, who are members of CFNU, are long-time members of their federations of labour.
RNU prides ourselves as being an organization who is true to our own constitution. Becoming a member of NLFL is in line these principles – it not only makes sense for our organization, it’s the right thing to do.
I attended the first day of the NLFL convention in May. All of the issues discussed were relevant to Registered Nurses and I strongly felt that our voice needed to be part of these discussions. I brought a recommendation to join the Federation of Labour to the RNU Board during our May meeting. The RNU Board discussed this matter and decided unanimously to join NLFL. As your president, I’m very pleased with the Board’s decision.
What will this mean for RNU? What will it mean for you?
As members of the NLFL, we will have a seat on the NLFL Board of Directors. RNU members will have the opportunity to run for NLFL Board positions. Members will also have the opportunity to participate on NLFL committees and attend the NLFL conventions.
The membership fee to join NLFL is less than $11 per year/RNU member. This money will be paid from our existing revenues.
With nearly 30 affiliate unions, NLFL is the voice of labour in our province. While we have not been members, RNU has built a positive relationship with the organization over the years. We have worked with NLFL on several projects, including participating in the Common Front NL.
Joining NLFL will strengthen this partnership. It will also ensure the perspectives and voice of RNs help inform the strategic direction and decision-making of our house of labour.
Get to know NLFL
Mary Shortall, President of NLFL, would like to share the following message with RNs:
“This is a very exciting time for our Federation. I am truly honoured to welcome such an active, passionate and committed union into our organization. Our broader political work on the issues that matter to you and our 65,000 members will be so much stronger with your stories, your expertise and your voices. I look forward to our work together on issues like pharmacare, quality public services, and laws and policies that help create a more equal and just world for our members, their families and our province. We are so much stronger together!! Solidarity!”
I look forward to this new partnership. Having a strong voice of labour has never been more important in our province as we face further privatization in health care and pressure to reduce health spending.
I encourage you to reach out with any questions you may have on this decision.
Debbie Forward, RN