In the anti-union South, RNs show winning and building a strong union is possible

Mission RNs hold an action for safe staffing in August, 2020.

Union nurses go to great lengths to bargain a strong contract because it governs the conditions in which our patients receive care. Will there be safe limits on how many patients are assigned to each nurse, allowing us to focus, deliver pain medication on time, and notice changes in our patients’ condition? Will RNs have enough personal protective equipment to keep ourselves and our patients safe? Will we be allowed a break to rest, or will we be completely fatigued and more prone to medical errors?

Celia Yap-Banago, RN with her sons Jhulan (far left) and Josh, and her husband Amado.

Every weekend, Celia Yap-Banago’s sons and husband take a short drive from their home to the nearby cemetery with flowers and Yap-Banago’s favorite snack: chips and a coke. Yap-Banago died of Covid-19 on April 21, 2020 — just short of her 40th work anniversary as a registered nurse at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo.

“We still set out a plate [for her] any time we eat, because we want her to know we are still thinking of her,” said her son Jhulan, 29. “She is still very, very loved.”

Nurses Week is May 6–12, and while our employers…

As Black History Month comes to a close, nurses are fighting forward for Black health

For the past few months, nurses at the VA in Tuscaloosa, Alabama have been driving their cars around their hospital and around downtown, honking their horns and displaying signs with slogans such as “Racial discrimination will not be tolerated.” …

Rose Foronda has done her share of caretaking. A mother of three whose husband has Alzheimer’s, Foronda has been a registered nurse in the ICU at Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif. for more than 30 years — one of the core group of Seton nurses to work there that long. Unfortunately, her good work didn’t matter to Safety National, the Insurance provider handling workers’ compensation claims for her employer.

After being exposed to a positive Covid patient in late August, Foronda tested positive in September (along with several fellow nurses), and was off sick for a month. …

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. …

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…

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). …

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.

For public health and safety, nurses support the HEROES Act

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. …

“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. …

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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