National Nurses United

National Nurse magazine July-August-September 2023

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 14 of 15

think so, and know you do, too. "We're the most trusted profession in America because we do everything in our power to take care of our patients, whether it's at the bedside or on the streets to fight back against corporate greed," says NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, referencing polling that, for the last two decades, has found people in the United States rank nursing as the most honest and ethical profession. "That's why NNU is leading the charge for staffing models that adequately pro- tect patients, nurses, and our communities against public health crises." Look no further than California, which passed minimum nurse- to-patient ratios as a result of the dogged advocacy of NNU's California affiliate, California Nurses Association. Patients, nurses, and hospitals are seeing the difference. Because of the minimum ratios, California hospitals are less burdened by the staffing crisis. Nurse employment grew significantly faster in California compared to other states after its nurse-to-patient minimum ratios were implemented. When you boil down the issue, it's as simple as nurses appreciat- ing being able to practice nursing under a safe working environment and actually getting to spend time with their patients. Anything less offers only the illusion of improvement—and of course, the hospital industry is happy to cut corners to maximize executive and share- holder profit. Take, for example, "gig nursing." Led by technology investors looking to make a quick buck and health care employers looking to cut costs, "gig nursing" would apply the same exploitative gig-work employment model (à la Uber and DoorDash) to nurses—misclassi- fying us as independent contractors and depriving us of the rights and benefits granted to regular employees. At a time when many of us are fed up with overwork, understaffing, and moral distress, the flexibility these health care gig work apps claim to offer is under- standably appealing. But we have to remember: Flexibility at work and benefits (including union rights) at work aren't mutually exclu- sive. That's a false choice presented by for-profit forces who benefit from stripping us of our rights. We also shouldn't fall for the false solution of compact licensure. Proponents claim that it would address the staffing crisis, but of course it doesn't call for nurse-to-patient minimum ratios or other guidelines that would improve working conditions. Instead, what it actually does is take power from your state's nursing board and hand it over to a national organization with little oversight and a comfort- able relationship with corporate sponsors, including those in the pharmaceutical industry. When nurses fight together, we win. as nnu nurses, we are constantly pushing against the treacher- ous headwinds of a health care industry that is relentlessly focused on profits. We've accomplished so much, despite the odds (including an unprecedented pandemic), because we've stood and fought together. "We know that the only way to build union nurse power is to demand, organize, and fight for what we need to protect ourselves and our patients," said NNU President Deborah Burger, RN. "It's this fearless attitude that has led to so many incredible wins during some of the hardest years of our lives—and it's what will help us maintain and advance the high standards of nursing we're proud to fight for." In the first three years of the pandemic, CNA/NNOC nurses took incredible initiative for public health, winning essential protections like personal protective equipment and routine testing. From red scrub Fridays, to marches on the boss, to strikes, we engaged in 5,000 workplace actions to challenge employers and win improvements. We won standards and new laws to develop more robust protec- tions against future public health emergencies, including a national emergency standard on Covid-19 in health care settings. That was a momentous victory since they are issued so infrequently that the last one was in 1983, almost four decades ago. Now, it's on the path toward permanency. And in thousands of collective bargaining agreements, we used our power to win major improvements in workplace conditions and staffing at our facilities. In just the last year, 75,000 nurses at 120 facilities won strong contracts (and some, first contracts). We've won 19 new union elections covering nearly 7,500 nurses since 2020—organizing everywhere to build our power and pre- vailing against blatant union-busting (and naysayers who said we couldn't possibly win). That includes victories in staunchly pro- business, anti-union environments like Asheville, N.C. and Wichita, Kan. Nurses are a force to be reckoned with! Our power is only grow- ing and we're going to prevail against our employers and the hospital industry with our solidarity! Michelle Morris is a communications specialist with National Nurses United. J U LY | A U G U S T | S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 3 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 N A T I O N A L N U R S E 15 Employers want us, the public, and lawmakers to believe that they cannot staff properly because there are simply not enough nurses. That is a lie.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of National Nurses United - National Nurse magazine July-August-September 2023