National Nurses United

National Nurse Magazine April 2011

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Main Street_3 5/5/11 11:37 AM Page 15 "Life for working people in this country over the past 30 years has gotten worse. Many working people cannot remember the last time they got a raise, and many have been hit with pay cuts. At the same time, costs for basic necessities—food, gas, utilities, rent, and health insurance—have skyrocketed. Infrastructure and services that ordinary, working people rely on are falling apart." many locations across the country, it seems that growing numbers of people are ready and willing to demand a new contract. But they can't do it without help and without leadership. That's where nurses come in. Why nurses? First, because registered nurses are patient advocates, with an ethical obligation to care for the afflicted and the suffering, and develop a care plan for restoring them to health. Those are our core values. Second, because the public trusts and counts on nurses, the lifeline that will always act in the interest of the patient, not the hospital or insurance company's bottom line. It's no coincidence that year after year the Gallup Poll ranks nursing as the most ethical profession. People depend upon and expect nurses to do the right thing. That means that they will listen to us when we present problems and a means of solution. We recognize that we cannot let them down. Third, because nurses have the power and experience—especially with the growth of our national RN movement through National Nurses United, a powerhouse voice that is growing and winning all over the country. If we can transform conditions for RNs and patients, we can win victories for our families and communities too. APRIL 2011 Last, registered nurses are uniquely positioned in our communities. We work throughout the country in a variety of settings, from urban and rural hospitals to clinics and in schools. Nurses touch everyone's lives. So what will this Main Street Contract include? Jobs at living wages to reinvest in America; equal access to quality public education; guaranteed healthcare with a single standard of care; a secure retirement with the ability to retire in dignity; good housing and protection from hunger; a safe and healthy environment; the right to collectively organize and bargain; and a just taxation system where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. That's the only way for America to restore its essential promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. Winning the Main Street Contract is not a partisan fight. The handouts to Wall Street and the transfer of resources from the many to the few have happened under the watch of leaders of both major political parties. What we're trying to reverse took several decades to occur, under a number of different administrations and political cycles. Just as bargaining a good contract at work is not a partisan fight, striking a good contract for the American people has meaning for us all. To win this Main Street Contract, nurses will need to mobilize on two fronts: from the workplace to the broader community. It will take all of us. We will need to teach other nurses about the power struggle between workers and corporations, Wall Street and Main Street, much as nurses have so often had to confront the quest of many hospital managements' quest for excess revenue and profit at the expense of quality patient care and secure standards for nurses. Nurses bring patients into the world, and now we must fight to protect them by securing these fundamental provisions—the Main Street Contract for America. 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 AT I O N A L N U R S E 15

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