Remembering Martin Luther King: Rallying for the Robin Hood Tax

by Bill Barclay

Bill Barclay speaking at Chicago RHT rally

Bill Barclay speaking at Chicago RHT rally

April 4th was the Fiftieth anniversary of an event that we don’t like to remember: the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. But, it also offers the chance to honor and carry forward MLK’s thinking and goals, particularly the concerns with poverty and inequality that he articulated with increasing intensity in the last years of his life.

So, on April 4th there was a national mobilization around the Robin Hood Tax (RHT), the proposal for a very small tax on financial transactions in stocks, currencies, debt and derivatives, futures and options based on these financial claims. The RHT has two goals: raising a large amount of money to reconstruct the U.S. political economy in a way that serves most of the population and at, the same time, restricting or even eliminating some of the most destructive aspects of finance and financial activities by throwing a small amount of sand into the gears of always increasing and always going faster treading volumes.

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Court Ruling on Labor Board Harms Workers

rose-demoro
By RoseAnn DeMoro
NNU Executive Director

When the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled Friday to overturn President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, it handed a huge gift to Wall Street, big corporations and the politicians they control.

In health care, the implications are especially insidious. It is a clear assault on the ability of nurses to act collectively to improve safety standards and public protections for patients.

When the labor board is not dominated by corporate-oriented appointees, as it has been most of the past four decades, the game plan of the antiunion crowd is to bar the board from operating, either by refusing to confirm appointees, de-funding it or destabilizing it. That was what prompted these recess appointments, made by President Obama only after the Senate minority blocked confirmation of his nominees needed to restore a quorum on the board to enable it to function. Continue reading

Do Nurses Have an Rx for Our Ailing Economy?

 by Bob Simpson

NNU

They became a Chicago media sensation after they streamed into Chicago’s Daley Plaza on the morning of May 18, wearing the now familiar National Nurses United (NNU) red scrubs. Many of them had the green caps and masks you’ve seen in nearly every Robin Hood movie ever made. The NNU is the largest union of nurses in the USA and one of the more progressive unions in the AFL-CIO.  In addition to improving working conditions for nurses, the NNU has taken on the role of trying to nurse our sick economy back to health.

Near the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza, the NNU had a  stage with a large banner of a smiling nurse in a Robin Hood outfit. Next to her was another banner of Sherwood Forest itself which served as the backdrop to the speeches, skits and music. The nurses put on  quite a show, all in support of taxing Wall Street.


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Labor and Occupied Wall Street

 Michael Levitin

Let’s get something straight: this movement has issued no demands. It is not a protest. It’s an occupation. Rebellions don’t have demands.

As we wrote in the editorial that appeared in the second edition of The Occupied Wall Street Journal on Saturday: “We are speaking to each other, and listening. This occupation is first about participation.”

That said, take a look at the largest support base that has thrown its muscle behind Occupy Wall Street during the past week—organized labor—and the direction of this movement becomes somewhat clearer.

America’s unions have been so sidelined and mismanaged in recent years that Tea Partiers last winter thought they could run them off the cliff altogether. The workers’ revolt in Wisconsin showed that wasn’t about to happen—and what we’re seeing now in Manhattan is further proof that labor is retooling, its ambitions sharpened and emboldened by the participatory assembly in Liberty Park.

“The occupation movement [in America] was started by labor in Madison when they occupied the capital, and that has given labor the go-ahead to do more, to become more active, more militant, and to support things like this,” said Jackie Di Salvo, who teaches English at Baruch College and is a member of the Professional Staff Congress, a union of faculty and staff representing 18 colleges in the CUNY system. Continue reading

The Big One is Coming Strikes Rattle California Hospitals

By Carl Finamore

Nurses Union convention

California nurses pour into their September 14-16 NNU national convention in San Francisco chanting "Strike!, Strike!, Strike!"

The sudden release of stored energy could easily describe earthquakes, of which we are very familiar in California. But this week, tremors of a different sort will shake the state from north to south.

The sudden release of pent up frustrations from more than 23,000 registered nurses at 34 Northern and Central California hospitals will explode to the surface in a one-day strike on Thursday, September 22.

The work stoppage affects two of California’s largest and most profitable hospital chains, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente, as well as Children’s Hospital Oakland.

“The strike at Sutter comes after nine months of failed negotiations,” Deborah Burger, RN, told me. Burger is president of National Nurses United (NNU) and co-president of its affiliate, the California Nurses Association (CNA).

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Nurses demand- Tax Wall Street to Heal America

Nurses fill office of Congressman Dan Lungren

by Duane Campbell

Some 80 Nurses and their union supporters boldly marched into the offices of Congressman Dan Lungren ( R. Sacramento) asking that he sign a pledge to support a Wall Street Transaction Tax on Sept.1, at his Gold River, California offices.  Speakers from California Nurses Association, from Retired RNs, and from the Sacramento Central Labor council asserted that they were united by the harm being done to our society by the Great Recession, and demanded a response from the Congressman who was not in his office and could not be located.

On Sept 1, 10,000 nurses and community participants  joined   actions in 21 states Thursday demanding action on the economic crisis to heal America. They called  on senators and Congress members in their local district offices  around the nation on Thursday  to pledge to “support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street.” National Nurses United, the largest U.S. union of nurses,  sponsored  the actions.  Unions, labor councils, DSA, Jobs with Justice and other groups joined in solidarity with the nurses union.

American families are hurting, and they need jobs, healthcare, housing, quality education, nutrition, and a secure retirement.
 
 
The RNs and their allies called on Congress members to sign a pledge to “support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street.” The visits follow a letter sent by certified mail to all 535 members of the House and Senate last week asking them to back the pledge and help “make the promise of the American dream… a reality.” Continue reading

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