If the term “labor union” conjures up the image of older white guys stepping off the assembly line and into the bar, you might be confused by the scene in RoseAnn DeMoro’s office.
Four women, all dressed in red, sit in a semi-circle, moving in hyperdrive as they prepare for a strike they’ve just announced. Then there’s the radio ad that needs to be released on California’s Prop. 45, and banners to be chosen for the afternoon’s press conference.
“You can do it, you’re a Jill-of-all-trades,” DeMoro tells one woman, who is dispatched to prepare for a rally.
“I used Mom organizing,” another jokes, about her strategies of getting people to arrive on time.
This is the hub of one of the smallest, but most powerful unions in the country. Just 190,000 members strong, National Nurses United is growing while other unions across the country are shrinking. When the autoworkers were agreeing to have some members’ pay cut in half, the nurses fought Arnold Schwarzenegger on patient-to-staff ratios—and won. While public employee unions in states like Michigan and Wisconsin were getting decimated by laws restricting their collective-bargaining rights, the nurses were pushing bills in the California legislature that eventually became law.