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Here we are, on the edge of a new year. As we look back at 2020, nurses, you should know that your story, what you have been through this year, matters.

It might be the story of your employer telling you it’s safe to keep an N95 respirator mask in a paper bag for weeks, send it out for so-called “decontamination,” and then wear the misshapen, toxic-smelling mask you get back while caring for Covid-19 patients. …


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When I recently learned that TIME had added me to the 2020 TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world, I knew that our nurse voice of patient advocacy was louder and more resonant than ever before. This award is shared with all of our National Nurses United members across the country, and with nurses everywhere, because when our patients needed protection during the most dangerous pandemic of our lifetimes, nurses stood up and got loud.

We knew that our employers would not be ready for this rapidly spreading, deadly virus. In America’s profit-driven health care system, hospitals already stock supplies at bare bones levels, using cost-saving techniques they gleaned from the auto industry. Of course, they would not be prepared with the personal protective equipment (PPE) that nurses and other health care workers would need to protect our patients, ourselves, and our communities during an emergency. …


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When the World Health Organization declared 2020 the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” what they might not have realized is that it would be the year nurses take our solidarity and our union power to the next level — a year when our lives are threatened like never before, and we respond by organizing, and rising up like never before.

To claim our power, hundreds of nurses came together online Sept. 9–12, along with some incredible activists and allies, during the first-ever virtual convention for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC). …


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On labor and workers’ rights, the contrast between Trump and Biden couldn’t be sharper.

There are many reasons nurses believe President Trump is hazardous to our health. And from his abysmal failure to stop the spread of COVID-19 and his authoritarian behavior — to racial justice and police violence, health care, the climate crisis, gender justice, and immigration — critical issues for the November election are lining up.

But nurses know there’s one issue that doesn’t get nearly enough attention, although it impacts the health and safety of our patients across the country: labor and workers’ rights. That’s an issue where the contrast between President Trump’s record and Joe Biden’s program couldn’t be sharper.

“Joe Biden represents a clear alternative on a number of essential issues to nurses and other working people,” says National Nurses United President Zenei Cortez, RN. “He supports union organizing and collective bargaining rights. …


For public health and safety, nurses support the HEROES Act

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NNU members hold a July, 2020 vigil in the U.S. capital, honoring the nurses who have died of COVID-19.

The benefits keeping people and families in America afloat expired Friday. If Senate Republicans have their way, what comes next would involve these millions of benefit recipients making choices no one wants to make.

Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, cases continue to skyrocket. Hospitals are running out of ICU beds, and nurses and health care workers continue to get sick and die without safe protections. This past week, GOP members of the Senate introduced their version of a fourth COVID-19 stimulus package, known as the HEALS Act. …


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“I can’t breathe,” Gary Fowler told three different metro Detroit emergency departments, as he begged for a COVID-19 test. He was dismissed and turned away each time. On April 7, 2020, sitting up in a recliner because breathing was so difficult, he died at age 56.

“I can’t breathe!” has become the rallying cry for ending police violence, as illustrated by the police killing of George Floyd less than two months later. …


This Mother’s Day falls during both Nurses’ Week, and the International Year of the Nurse, but for some nurses, what should have been a day of honor is instead a day of separation. Without safe protections from their employers, some nurses are spending Mother’s Day 2020 everywhere from hotel rooms to RVs to protect their families from exposure to COVID-19. Here are just a few stories that embody what nurses are going through across the country.

Ketsia Glemaud, RN, Brooklyn, NY

Each Mother’s Day, the moms in registered nurse Ketsia Glemaud’s extended family pile into the Brooklyn home she shares with her parents, both in their 80s. Gathering around a table in the dining room, they celebrate over a big spread of carryout food that none of them has to cook. …


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We want protections, not pizza! Sign from a shift change action at Oakland, California Kaiser.

Celia Yap Banago just missed the 40-year-anniversary of working at her hospital. Karla Dominguez’s pediatric patients, or her “kids” as she called them, are now without their registered nurse “mom.” Jeff Baumbach will no longer be sharing life lessons with his daughter, and Noel Sinkiat’s retirement motorcycle trip is now cancelled. Helen Gbodi and Paul Anthony Camagay will never again care for their patients.

As we head into Nurses’ Week, these are the registered nurse members of National Nurses United who have lost their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are among the 87 nurses we have lost across the country. While our colleagues are dying, nurses know that our hospital employers and industry will call us “heroes” this Nurses’ Week, and show their “appreciation” to us with a pizza party or gifts of hospital swag — as they do every year. …


On the eve of the Nevada caucuses, it’s a good time to restate why National Nurses United supports Sen. Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic candidate for President, best representing nurses’ values of caring, compassion and community.

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Sen. Sanders has tapped into a yearning of millions for a fundamental break from decades of policies that have led to the shocking chasm in wealth and income inequality, rollback of rights and protections for workers and unions, escalation of racial and gender disparities, and all the other signposts that point to the danger of the rule by the wealthy few, not the people. …


At this weekend’s women’s marches, nurses and our allies are building power

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Unionism and feminism go hand in hand. Just ask union nurses. Our women-dominated profession stands up against a billion-dollar health care industry every single day, and using our collective power, we win critical protections in our union contract — from fair wages and benefits, to protection from workplace harassment and violence.

This weekend, members of National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in America, will be taking our solidarity to the next level by joining our allies in women’s marches across the country. I am personally thrilled to be marching with my fellow nurses at the Washington, D.C. …

About

Bonnie Castillo

Union Nurse Leader & Medicare For All Activist. Executive Director of @NationalNurses, the Largest U.S. Organization of Registered Nurses. #TIME100

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