National Nurses Union Endorses Sanders

As the Executive Director of National Nurses United, the largest nurses union in our nation, I was there when we proudly endorsed Bernie Sanders for President.

In the moments leading up to our endorsement, I watched our nurses’ outpouring of love and respect for Bernie.

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Bernie and NNU members

It was a magical moment of genuine hope for nurses who see people when they are at their most vulnerable and suffering, and who care for every person’s life in our country.

Nurses see the terrible social health consequences from:

Choosing between putting food on the table and getting the medications and treatment you need
Job loss
Severe depression from debt, especially student loan debt
Pollution, toxic spills, and climate change
Malnutrition and income inequality
With Bernie Sanders, we can turn our country around, and restore genuine hope for our families. Continue reading

Friedrichs v CTA – A Potential Union Killer

Supremecourt

by Harold Meyerson

About a month ago, the Supreme Court closed out its term in a blaze of nonpartisan glory. Or nonpartisan obloquy, depending on one’s reaction to the court’s legalization of same-sex marriage and its upholding of Obamacare — but nonpartisan either way. A court with a Republican-appointed majority upheld a Democratic president’s health insurance program and a marital policy that most Republican officeholders felt obliged to oppose (even if most Republican political consultants felt relieved to see gay marriage rendered a fait accompli).

But that was then. In the term that will begin this fall, the court has a splendid opportunity to deliver the most partisan decision it has rendered since Bush v. Gore. When the court rules in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association , which will be argued in the coming months, the Republican-appointed justices will be able, if they so choose, to create a long-term advantage for their party over the Democrats.

Friedrichs is a case brought by a California teacher who objects to paying dues to the union that has bargained the contract that secures her pay and benefits. The union does not collect any money from her to support its political activities, but, by virtue of the court’s 1977 Abood decision, and hundreds of later decisions based on Abood, she is obliged to pay that portion of her dues that goes to bargaining and administering her contract. That obligation, the court ruled in Abood, is essential if public employees are to have an effective right to collective bargaining. If employees can benefit from union representation without funding the union, the court reasoned, the union could be weakened to the point that it couldn’t represent those employees adequately, if, indeed, at all. Continue reading

National Nurses United Statement on Black Lives Matter

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NNU Statement on Black Lives Matter and the Health Impact of Societal Racial Disparities

National Nurses United Press Release, 7/23/15

National Nurses United joins with the AFL-CIO and activists across the United States in urging all presidential candidates to address the pervasive problems of racial and economic justice that have so stained our nation.

For nurses, the national dialogue this week about structural racism is a reminder that health, which includes personal safety, is a broad thematic that affects all corners of the national debate – from police shootings to the courts to incarceration, and racial disparities in healthcare, housing, job opportunities, and education.

Systemic racism also contributes to additional race-based violence, such as the horrific massacre that claimed nine lives in an African-American church in Charleston, S.C.

While there are clear correlations between structural racism in the criminal justice system and economic and social justice, each area is also a clear and present danger to life and health, as well as an infringement on the human rights of those affected and on American democracy. As nurses, we are dedicated to preventing all forms of illness, protecting health, and alleviating human suffering.

  • Black lives matter.  According to a Washington Post database, more than 500 people, a disproportionate number of them African-American, have been shot dead by police this year.  Others, such as Sandra Bland, who died in a Texas jail cell under suspicious circumstances, have died while in police custody.  Harassment based on race remains evident in too many routine police matters as well, evidenced by “stop and frisk” practices. All have serious health consequences from loss of life to serious injuries to exacerbating physical and mental health problems.​
  • Inequity in incarceration. With 5 percent of the world population, the United States has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Though only one-fourth of the U.S. population combined, African-Americans and Latinos comprise 58 percent of the prisoners.  One in three African-American males born today is likely, under current trends, to spend time in prison. Arrests for drug offenses and minimum sentencing laws disproportionately affect African-Americans. In addition to the disparate treatment based on race, inadequate health services are common in prison settings and, the NAACP notes, infectious diseases are highly concentrated in prison settings.
  • Racism remains a significant public health issue. Even with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, racial disparities continue in access to health services and health outcomes. African-Americans, for example, have shorter life expectancies, higher infant mortality rates, and higher rates of chronic illness, such as higher blood pressure, that can lead to strokes and diabetes than whites. Overall racial discrimination significantly contributes to stress and other adverse health factors.
  • African-Americans and Latinos have higher jobless rates than white Americans, and have been disproportionately affected by cuts in public-sector jobs, long a key area where ethnic minorities, who face greater racism in private employment, have traditionally had greater opportunity. A result is lower incomes and a wealth gap, which are significant factors in higher rates of medical bankruptcies, lack of health insurance, failure to seek timely medical care, malnutrition, and stress-related health disorders.

Each one of these areas, as well as racial disparities in other walks of life, such as education, housing and homelessness, and environmental racism, deserve attention and systemic solutions from candidates for elected office and other institutions of our society.

NNU supports efforts at comprehensive solutions including, but not limited to:

  • Comprehensive criminal justice reforms, including national standards for greater public oversight, accountability, and prosecution for rights violations, improved racial bias training, and diversity in hiring.
  • Systemic prison and sentencing reform to reduce mass incarcerations and disparities, and improved prison and jail health services.
  • Genuine, universal guaranteed healthcare based on a single standard of quality care for everyone, best achieved by an upgraded and expanded Medicare for all that would help reduce racial disparities and discrimination in healthcare.
  • An end to austerity economic policies that disproportionately affect minority populations. Focus on increased revenue, not budget cuts, such as could be achieved by a tax on Wall Street speculation that could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually for living-wage job; increased funding for healthcare, housing, and education; and robust action to combat climate change and environmental devastation that also hit low-income and minority communities in higher percentages.

So Close to $15/hour for New York Fast Food Workers!

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Fight for $15

Governor Cuomo’s wage board recommended that all New York fast-food workers deserve $15 an hour. Now, his administration could make it happen and raise the wage for 180,000 New York workers.

The governor needs to hear from you about why YOU believe fast-food workers deserve $15 an hour.

To send him a message, go to

http://fightfor15.org/s-petition/nys-wage-board-comment-petition/

Largest UK Union Attacks Troika on Greece

by Paul Garver

The largest union in the United Kingdom, UNITE, representing 1.4 million members, issued the following statement in solidarity with Greece in its confrontation with European high finance and conservative politicians.

Last Sunday 5th July 2015 the Greek people sent a clear and unequivocal message that the era of austerity must end. UNITE congratulates them for their courage in standing up to the relentless intimidation and pressure of the Troika. The referendum was not about leaving the European Union or the Euro, all indications are clear that Greece wants to remain in the European Union and in the Euro, however it was a clear message that Europe needs to change.

The policies that have been imposed on Greece over the last five years have been a disaster on every measure. Unemployment and poverty have rocketed, the economy has shrunk by 26% and the debt has continued to soar. The crisis facing Greece was not caused by the Greek people – yet they have been made to pay the price time after time. A new approach is needed that starts by putting the interests and needs of the people of Greece ahead of those of the international bankers that caused the crisis in the first place. UNITE will continue to stand in solidarity with the Greek people and ahead of the coming summit on Sunday 12th July 2015 and urges the European Commission and European Governments to engage honestly with the new proposal of the Greek government to find a long term sustainable solution.

UNITE strongly condemns the comments made in the lead up to the referendum by many senior European and international figures. The language that has been adopted towards Greece displays an unacceptable arrogance and it is this attitude that has played a key role in the failure to find acceptable solutions. The call of the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, to replace the democratically elected government with a government of technocrats is a disgrace and epitomises everything that is wrong.

It is not Greece that needs the imposition of a technocratic government it is Europe that must listen to the democratic will of the people of Greece. Greece has been used as a laboratory for the policies of austerity. That experiment has now failed, as it is failing in the UK and elsewhere across Europe. It is up to the political leaders of Europe to now sit down with the Government of Alexis Tsipras and reach a deal that is sustainable and ensures a future for Greece based on solidarity, the future of Europe depends upon getting it right.

Global Petition: Urging Uniqlo to Resolve the Labour Dispute in the Artigas Factory in China

by Paul Garver

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Numerous worker and labor solidarity groups based in Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asian countries are supporting demands of clothing workers in Shenzhen, China, whose factory has been closed without consultation or compensation. They have created a global petition in Chinese and English languages to urge the giant apparel corporation that buys the products of the factory to intervene.

The English language text of the petition follows.

To view the list of signers and to sign the petition, go to

13 July 2015
Uniqlo is one of the fastest-growing fashion brands of the last decade. The brand has 1,621 stores around the globe. In China alone, it has experienced explosive growth, opening nearly 400 stores in just a few years. Uniqlo products are well-known for low prices, trendy looks and high functionality. However, 70% of them are made by Chinese garment workers who work long hours every day under dismal working conditions. Regrettably, Uniqlo, as the biggest Asian garment brand with plenty of resources and knowledge, refuses to fulfil its corporate social responsibility, repeatedly turning a blind eye to the malpractices of its supplier Hong Kong-owned Lever Style Inc. These malpractices include allowing Shenzhen Artigas Clothing and Leather (hereinafter Artigas), the factory managed by Lever Style Inc., to shut down its factory by secretly removing equipment and machines while denying severance payments and the payment of social insurance in arrears to affected workers. We as labour rights concern groups have been keeping close watch on this case and are very disappointed and angry at how Uniqlo is handling the issue.
Continue reading

Sanders: Austerity Imposed on Greek People is Unacceptable

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) attacked the International Monetary Fund and European authorities on Wednesday (July 1)  for imposing what he called excessive austerity measures on Greece in negotiations over the country’s debt payments.

“It is unacceptable that the International Monetary Fund and European policymakers have refused to work with the Greek government on a sensible plan to improve its economy and pay back its debt,” Sanders said in an exclusive statement to The Huffington Post. “At a time of grotesque wealth inequality, the pensions of the people in Greece should not be cut even further to pay back some of the largest banks and wealthiest financiers in the world.” Continue reading

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