Nurses in the US declare: Safe staffing saves lives
Nurses must sound like a broken record to some, especially the greedy hospital CEOs who continue to equate healthcare with corporate profits. Rather than “show me the money,” nurses in the US are demanding retention incentives and recruitment strategies to keep enough nurses on the job to provide optimal and safe patient care.
In mid-September, about 15,000 Minnesota nurses went on a three-day strike over deadlocked contract negotiations at 15 area hospitals. Mary C. Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, a nurse at North Memorial Hospital, explained why the nurses are striking: “When our leaders refuse to fully staff our hospitals and nurses continue to be pushed out of the profession, it is a crisis public health.” (tinyurl.com/25vepvxn)
Maine Medical Center nurses voted 3-1 to recertify their union and won a contract that addresses staffing safety and work-life balance. Eventually, the University of Wisconsin health nurses, represented by the Service Employees Union (SEIU) Healthcare Wisconsin, won union recognition despite attempts by UW Health executives to crush the union’s efforts. After a rally by nurses and a planned three-day strike, the hospital agreed to recognize the union and begin renegotiating a contract.
Educators are striking to demand fair contracts
According to the Cornell University Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School Labor Tracker, since August 2022 there have been eight teachers’ strikes at 14 schools ranging from preschool through university. Seattle teachers reached a tentative agreement to end their strike that began Sept. 7. Teachers in Columbus, Ohio, went on strike for four days last month before agreeing to a deal that would guarantee all schools a pay rise and air-conditioning improvements.
Faculty members at Eastern Michigan University, southwest of Detroit, ended their strike in September after reaching a tentative settlement with university officials. The focus of the contract negotiations was on salary increases and prohibitive increases in health insurance. The same administration sought an injunction, claiming the strike was illegal, but was denied by the judge. The Eastern Michigan University-American Association of Union Professors (EMU-AAUP) represents 500 tenured and tenure-track faculty.
Schools in Ridgefield, Oregon remain closed and teachers there passed a vote of no confidence in school district administrators. The 200 members of the Ridgefield Education Association (REA) have been on strike since Sept. 9, demanding smaller class sizes, more resources for student mental health and special education, and pay rises to improve teacher retention rates. (koin.com, 12 Sep)
Factory workers build manpower
United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1166 represents workers at the Stellantis NV plant in Kokomo, Indiana. The plant is owned by Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. After a strike in early September, workers signed a new contract addressing deteriorating conditions at the plant. The contract guarantees the installation of a new HVAC system, repair of broken machines and overtime protection.
Poultry factory workers in Mississippi are organizing at the Peco Foods facility in West Point, Mississippi, for recognition by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1529. Poultry factories in Mississippi have been the target of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. which took place in 2019 at the Koch Food facility in Morton, Mississippi. It was part of the largest immigration crackdown on the workplace in the state’s history. Nearly 700 workers were arrested, half from Morton, from which the community has not recovered.
Minor league baseball players win
Minor league baseball players have won their fight for a union! They will join the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). Eventually, the minor leagues could win some of the perks that major league players had received from MLB companies reaping profits from lucrative television deals. Minor league baseball has a 120-year history of abusing players who offer meager salaries, no job security, and other abuses. The union campaign has been organized at the player level and the MLBPA stands ready to work to make life easier for minor league players. Play ball!