National Nurses United

National Nurse magazine October-November-December 2016

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the clinic's exact location at Standing Rock and opening date are still coming together. Funds are being raised to enable its launch and to support salaries for indigenous providers, with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently donating $50,000 to the project. "The Mni Wiconi Clinic is at the forefront of what healthcare should be: addressing the basic human need our government has not yet met of universal healthcare coverage," said Registered Nurse Response Network Director Bonnie Castillo, RN. "And it is care deliv- ered in a way that is just. Our registered nurse volunteers look forward to volunteering in—and learning from—this revolutionary project." As for Dundon, who has already been failed by a broken health- care system, she says that personal experience with lack of access to care drew her activist focus to the crossroads of environmental jus- tice, justice for native communities, and now healthcare justice. "That's where I'll be standing now," said Dundon. She will find the Mni Wiconi Clinic at that crossroads. And she will not be alone. Organized Resistance Labor for Standing Rock envisions building a better world W hile proponents of fossil fuel-related projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) tout job creation as a reason for moving forward, many workers are adopt- ing a new mantra in this era of climate change: There are no jobs on a dead planet. National Nurses United has taken a strong stand against DAPL, deploying its Registered Nurses Response Network (RNRN) to Standing Rock three times to help with first aid, as well as releasing several public statements highlighting the negative health impacts of both dirty oil pipelines and the excessive use of force on peaceful protestors by militarized police. "This has become a seminal battle over the First Amendment protection of public protest. It is also a challenge for everyone who is concerned about the rights of First Nation people and their sacred sites and water sources, as well as the threat the pipeline poses to environmental degradation, public health, and to accelerating the climate crisis," said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN. NNU is not alone in its labor support, as union workers across the country converged on Standing Rock last fall to stand in solidar- ity with Native American activists. Cliff Willmeng, a registered nurse, anti-fracking activist from Lafayette, Colo., and a member of United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 7, is a cofounder of Labor for Standing Rock (LFSR), a sub-camp within the sprawling network of official No DAPL protest camps, as well as an ongoing movement uniting workers with Native Americans in their collective opposition to the pipeline. "The origins and fundamentals of Labor For Standing Rock are based in the need for new ideas and strategies in the labor move- ment," said Willmeng, who, along with Michael Lewtin of Labor For Palestine, founded LFSR after the AFL-CIO endorsed the Dakota Access Pipeline in September, citing "4,500 high-quality, family sup- porting jobs." "We can build a new union strategy and create full employment constructing a world away from fossil fuels, but that is going to mean challenging the bosses and Wall Street," said Willmeng. "It will chal- lenge the fossil fuel industry and mean a new labor movement for ourselves too." According to Willmeng, the main work of Labor for Standing Rock has been a combination of winterization construction, fundraising for the camp, and building a periphery of union rank and file carrying the resistance forward in their hometowns. Willmeng says more than 100 union members have spent time at the camp, hailing from unions representing the building trades, graduate students, nurses, teachers, dockworkers, and many more. Jocelyn Silverlight is president of UAW Local 2322 in Western Massachu- setts, representing workers from Massa- chusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire in the fields of early education, higher education, mental/behavioral health, and other areas. After a vote from member- ship, Silverlight traveled to Standing Rock, in conjunction with LFSR, to convey UAW Local 2322's support. Her union's plan was to connect with indigenous water protec- tors at the camp and find ways for members to assist either at the camp or from home. At the camp, they believed it was very impor- tant to listen to and take direction from the indigenous leadership, and ended up helping with construction projects as well as unpack- ing donated supplies. Silverlight is adamant that DAPL jobs are not the type of jobs labor needs. "We need to focus on renewable, clean energy jobs as a way of preserving our planet," she said. "If we do not make the switch, then our planet will not be able to support us, and no jobs will exist." Standing Rock renewed her faith in collective action, said Sil- verlight, and she hopes "to return soon to join the water protectors in this essential moment of resistance, in the spirit of democratic social justice unionism." Willmeng says Labor for Standing Rock's next step, beyond any winterization and safety needs that labor can help provide, is contin- uing to advance a labor movement with healthy priorities. "The biggest contribution we can make as nurses and as workers to saving this planet is to build a labor movement ready to lend itself to direct action and political independence from the failed strategies to which we've lost power," said Willmeng. "We hope Labor For Standing Rock can begin a conversation for the role of working people in a world so terribly out of balance." Kari Jones is a communications specialist with National Nurses United. O C T O B E R | N O V E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 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 13 Rank-and-file workers from around the country came to support the pipeline resistors through the Labor for Standing Rock camp.

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