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Nurses

A Minnesota Nurse Speaks Out About Exploitative Working Conditions

Hello, my name is Danielle and I’m a nurse at Methodist Hospital. I want to speak a little about the situation we are seeing currently which has led to this strike. HealthPartners permanently closed seven clinics putting 200 people jobless during the pandemic as the company seeks to put profit first—and accessibility for healthcare last. HealthPartners closed thirty pharmacies and left 300 people jobless while also selling their patients to Walgreens pharmacies before the pandemic. HealthPartners bought Park Nicollet Hospital in order to consolidate and control the market. They created an insurance company that double dips into our communities’ wallets. This has resulted in higher prices for medical services and greater leverage to negotiate higher prices from health insurance providers, leading to ever-increasing health care costs for individuals and families.

University Of Wisconsin Health Backs Down As Nurses Threaten To Strike

Madison, Wisconsin - On September 12, a tentative agreement was reached between nurses at University of Wisconsin Health (UW Health) and administration over management recognition of their union, represented by SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. Nurses at UW Health had lost their union after their contract expired in 2014 and the administration refused to bargain, citing Wisconsin's "Act 10" law. The effort for renewed recognition was restarted as of 2019. Demands to recognize their union, which represents approximately 2400 Nurses in Madison, had been rejected up to now. Nurses there submitted a ten-day notice to strike over recognition as provided by law, and had been preparing through the weekend to begin on September 13.

No New Talks Planned As Three-Day Nurses Strike Starts

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota - Nurses at 15 hospitals in the Twin Cities and northern Minnesota began a three-day walkout Monday morning. The strike started at 7 a.m. and is scheduled to last until early Thursday morning. Union officials said no negotiations are currently planned during the strike period. Union nurses have been in negotiations since March, and working without a contract since June. The main sticking points are wage increases, retention, staffing and safety concerns, as well as addressing ongoing burnout, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. "The most important thing for us is safe staffing.

Fighting For Union Recognition And Quality Care

I’m a nurse at University of Wisconsin Hospital, University Hospital, which is their main adult inpatient hospital. I’ve worked there for 5 years. I’m on a unit called F65 and have worked there for most of my career. Prior to Covid, it was General Medicine and Geriatrics, which meant that we cared for — and we still care for this population — a lot of people with chronic illnesses that come in for exacerbations of those illnesses. Since Covid, one of our main services has been taking care of Covid patients, and that’s still ongoing. And I’m a charge nurse, which means that I supervise the flow of patients in and out of the unit, write staffing assignments and help people out as they’re going about their day. I’ve been at this hospital for the entirety of my nursing career.

15,000 Nurses To Strike As They Fight To Put Patients Before Profits

St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota – This morning, nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association announced that 15,000 nurses throughout the state plan to strike for three days beginning September 12, 2022, as they fight for fair contracts to put patients before profits. The strike is believed to be the largest private-sector nurses’ strike in U.S. history, and it comes as nurses have negotiated with hospital executives for more than five months and have worked without contracts for the last several months. The strike will be the first that Twin Cities and Twin Ports nurses have taken together in contract negotiations.

Minnesota Nurses’ Strike Vote Puts Safety And Conditions In Spotlight

Minnesota - Throughout the Covid pandemic, nurses around the US have faced deteriorating working conditions and challenges, from safety concerns to increasing workloads that have stemmed from understaffing as nurses have quit their jobs or retired early. Those nurses who are still on the job at many hospitals say they have been expected to do more with fewer resources, an issue that nurses say is causing retention crises and jeopardizing patient safety and care. Now nurses at 15 hospitals in the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis-St Paul) and Duluth, Minnesota, that are negotiating new union contracts with their respective hospitals have overwhelmingly Voted to authorize a strike. A date for the work stoppage has not been set yet by the union, the Minnesota Nurses Association, which represents about 15,000 nurses who voted on the strike authorization, but a 10-day notice must be given ahead of any strike.

Nurses In The US Are Suffering ‘Moral Injury’

Minnesota emergency room nurse Cliff Willmeng remembers, during the early days of the pandemic, treating a patient at United Hospital who asked how the nurses were doing. The man was a Vietnam veteran, and Willmeng recalls that he said, “This is your war.” “I kind of laughed, like what do you mean by that?” said Willmeng, who recalled he didn’t grasp at the time how horrible the pandemic would become. “He said, ‘We dealt with this in Vietnam. You don’t know it yet but none of you are ever going to be the same again.’” More than two years later, Willmeng, like countless other nurses and frontline workers nationwide, knows all too well how true those words turned out to be. “The combination of the lethality of the virus and the seemingly total abandonment of collaboration from the management I was under produced anxiety and fear in me I had never felt, never,” said Willmeng.

Healthcare Workers’ Struggles Continue Across The US

Nurses and other health care workers across the nation are rising up in a growing wave of strikes and protests against understaffing, lack of crucial supplies, exhausting workloads and the erosion of their living standards by the sharp rise in inflation. Conditions for health care workers around the world have been greatly worsened by the response of the ruling class to the pandemic. Many are leaving the profession, further deepening the crisis. According to a March 24 report in Healthcare IT News, 90 percent of US nurses are considering leaving the profession. Not only must nurses handle inhuman levels of stress at work, but they are also facing criminal prosecution as they struggle to perform their duties safely under impossible conditions.

An Oral History Of The 10-Month St. Vincent Hospital Strike

Worcester, Massachusetts - The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding failure at every level of government to prevent its spread dealt a devastating blow to healthcare workers. Nurses, doctors, and other medical workers faced increasingly dangerous conditions, along with employers more concerned with increasing profits than saving the lives of their patients or employees. At St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, nurses fought back against their corporate employer by organizing a strike of over 700 workers that lasted for 10 months. Filmed by TRNN contributor Gino Canella, these interviews with St. Vincent nurses comprise an oral history of a ferocious labor battle that became the longest nurses’ strike in Massachusetts state history.

Striking Massachusetts Nurses Outwait Corporate Giant Tenet

Last year’s longest-running strike came to an end in early January when nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, overwhelmingly voted to ratify their new contract and return to work. Seven hundred nurses had walked out over dangerous staffing conditions last March—ten months ago. (See previous Labor Notes coverage from last April and August.) In a year of health care workers organizing amid Covid surges and staffing shortages, St. Vincent nurses stood out for their willingness to strike indefinitely and for the discipline the strikers showed. Open-ended strikes are still a rarity in health care, and Tenet was a formidable opponent: a massive for-profit health care corporation that owns 60 hospitals across the country and is valued at $8 billion.

Nurses In US Protest COVID-19 Working Conditions

The protests were held under the banner of National Nurses United (NNU), a labor union with more than 175,000 members nationwide, which called on the hospital industry to "invest in safe staffing." Hospitals in the US, the worst-hit country in the world, have been struggling to cope up with the new tide of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, as well as worker shortages and burnout. Nurses are furious over sheer callousness and indifference shown by the government as well as their employers, blaming them for caring about their businesses, not the public health. The protests took place across 11 US states  and Washington, D.C. “to demand the hospital industry invest in safe staffing, and to demand that President Biden follow through on his campaign promise to protect nurses and prioritize public health,” according to the union.

The Big Business Behind Travel Nursing

As the first wave of Covid-19 hit the United States, Jen, a 53-year-old nurse struggling to pay her bills, received an intriguing message. “THE TIME HAS COME TO DEPLOY AT INCREDIBLY HIGH RATES,” read the mass text from Krucial Staffing, sent to nurses nationwide in March 2020 and forwarded to Jen by a colleague. Jen (a pseudonym used to protect her from retaliation from employers) could barely believe the wages promised by the Kansas-based healthcare staffing firm. As part of its massive recruitment drive during the first wave of Covid-19, Krucial was paying $10,000 a week to nurses willing to travel — or “deploy,” in the company’s lingo — to the frontlines in New York City.

St. Vincent Nurses Strike Sadly Reaches Eight Months

On Monday, Nov. 8,  the historic St. Vincent Hospital nurses strike will reach the eight-month mark,  another sad milestone in their struggle against Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, a for-profit corporation that has spent more than $100 million and engaged in a number of unfair labor practices to retaliate against the nurses for exercising their right to advocate for safer patient care. The strike is the longest nurses strike in state history, and one of the longest of several strikes by workers across the nation, who are standing up to corporate greed and the devaluation of essential workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The strike has caught the attention of labor and social justice advocacy organizations from across the nation, after Tenet has pursued an aggressive campaign to undermine the nurses’ union rights, and to permanently replace the nurses, what some in the labor movement have called a “PATCO moment,” referring to efforts by the Reagan administration to replace air traffic controllers following their strike in the early 1980s. 

Rural Hospitals Can’t Find The Nurses They Need To Fight COVID

On any given day, Mary Ellen Pratt, CEO of St. James Parish Hospital in rural Lutcher, Louisiana, doesn’t know how she’s going to staff the 25-bed hospital she manages. With the continued surge of the COVID-19 delta variant, she’s had to redirect resources. Her small team, including managers, has doubled up on duties, shifts and hours to care for intensive care patients, she said. “We’re having to postpone elective surgeries that require hospitalizations because we can’t take care of those patients in the hospital,” Pratt said. “The staff working in outpatient services have been redeployed to bedside care.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, Pratt said, she’s lost nurses who decided to retire early. The hospital offered salary bumps for current staff and incentive pay earlier in the pandemic, Pratt said.

Unions Take Up The Fight For Racial Justice

Labor organizations are taking up the fight for racial justice in many ways. They’re developing in-depth member education on racial capitalism. They’re using bargaining to address structural racism and developing new leadership.
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