National Nurses United

National Nurse Magazine July-August 2012

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pick up a newspaper, turn on a television or a radio or surf the Internet without hearing how public workers were living high on the hog, eating up taxpayer dollars. This mean-spirited public discourse provided the constant barrage of attacks leveled at those public workers who support and provide the sorely needed services that millions depend upon for survival. When the dust settled after the November 2010 elections, state after state had elected the most anti-worker, anti-poor, anti-student, anti-farmer, and anti-union city, state and Congressional representatives in modern history. The 1% were ecstatic, but for the rest of us, the future looked bleak. And then, the uprising in Wisconsin happened! John Nichols��� Uprising, published this year by Nation Books, chronicles the extraordinary actions that began in the snow-covered capital of Madison, Wis. that grew to hundreds of thousands in early 2011. These actions would eventually spark a nationwide movement of workers, students, farmers, and unemployed people determined to resist the unfettered power grab by corporations and Wall Street financial speculators. Thousands poured into the streets of Madison due to the heinous attack on public workers��� wages, benefits, pensions and bargaining rights by a new Republican governor, financed by the infamous right-wing Koch brothers, Charles and David. These corporate attacks spread to farmers and people who were recipients of Badger Care and other safetynet programs, as well as students in public schools and universities. The demonstrations grew in numbers and intensity and when the ���occupation��� of the state Capitol began, word spread throughout the world that the people of Wisconsin were fighting back. Support came from public- and private-sector workers and their unions as well as students, farmers, PTAs, and other community-based organizations, even from as far away as Cairo, Egypt���which had recently experienced its own uprising and thrown out a dictator. The Wisconsin uprising would eventually spread to Ohio, Michigan, and other states undergoing the same attacks. NNU nurses and other progressive groups who were on the ground in Wisconsin would go on to build actions in Washington, D.C., California, and New York, with the same ���Blame Wall Street��� message throughout the summer of 2011. And by September of the same year, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life would be occupying strategic locations in cities, towns, and universities throughout the world, challenging Wall Street greed and demanding justice for the 99%. For a time, the Tea Party would be silenced and the blame for the economic calamity was put squarely on Wall Street greed. Nichols��� story��is most certainly a ���biased��� account written by an admittedly ���biased��� observer. He is a proud native son of the state and dedicates his book to the Mineral Point, Wis. miner from whom he is descended. He is unabashedly in love with Wisconsin and its people, who were targets of the attacks by Scott Walker and his corporate backers. Nichols provides solid background of the history of workingclass people in the state and describes how the actions of 2011 were rooted in the past political movements of Milwaukee Socialists and Robert M. La Follette���s Progressives. He makes the point that when history is acknowledged, it can make powerful connections to a ���legacy worth defending.��� In the case of Wisconsin, that legacy was the birth of public-sector unions in Madison. He lauds the progressive groups within the uprising who put the blame on the economic 22 N AT I O N A L N U R S E crisis back where it belonged. ���Blame Wall Street��� and ���No Cuts, No Concessions��� signs proliferated on the streets and inside the Rotunda. Nichols discusses how these interjections continued the progressive legacy of the state by defending the democratic rights of working people to challenge the accumulation of wealth by an elite few. ���This is what democracy looks like��� to Nichols, meaning that the rich elite need to have their power put in check in a fundamental and permanent way. The controversial move to divert the Wisconsin uprising into an electoral agenda, which focused solely on recalling Republican politicians in the state, ended with mixed results. Nichols warned in his book, prior to the recall, that the ���soft messaging��� of Democratic party consultants focusing on the ���politics of personality��� would harm not only the goals of the recall movement, but that it could actually suppress the larger movement that had latched onto a very clear anti-corporate message and agenda. In Uprising, Nichols argues for a different approach. Through mass mobilization and action, not just relying on election-focused list building, there could be a different, long-lasting result. He points to the strategy and tactics of a different labor movement operating ���beyond the boundaries��� of the Democratic Party from 1932-36 that built labor and farm groups on a local, state, and national level, keeping lowincome and working-class people engaged to hold politicians and officials accountable. Clearly, Nichols is on to something deeply important if the uprisings of Wisconsin and the Occupy movement and those that will surely come in the near future are to have the staying power to bring about the fundamental change needed to ensure economic justice for the 99%. ���Jill Furillo, RN Volunteering at Home and Abroad: The Essential Guide for Nurses By Jeanne Leffers and Julia Plotnick; Sigma Theta Tau International, 2011 I f you have ever dreamed or desired to use your nursing skills as an international or national volunteer, run, do not walk, to the store to purchase the book by Jeanne Leffers and Julia Plotnick, titled Volunteering At Home and Abroad: The Essential Guide For Nurses. It is of value to new and seasoned volunteers. This guide was written by registered nurses for registered nurses. There are other books about volunteering and while they are helpful, this book is W W W. N A T I O N A L N U R S E S U N I T E D . O R G J U LY | A U G U S T 2 0 1 2

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