Like you, I’m a registered nurse, and I need to warn you that there is a war being waged on our ability to advocate for our profession and our patients. It’s not about party politics. It’s about power and our need to assert our collective voice to influence the care our patients receive.
This attack did not originally target nurses, but instead, public union workers. Regardless, it’s going to impact our practice. It’s an effort that has been in process for decades and is now gaining steam due to the current political climate at the federal level. A decision is coming from the U.S. Supreme Court early this year that could allow public union nurses to withdraw their union membership, but would still most likely obligate the union to continue to represent those nurses.
As educated professionals, how do you think that would work? Where will the resources to represent you come from if not from dues money? What will diminished membership do to your collective power? Who’s going to gain from this decision? Better yet, who’s waging this attack on our profession and in turn our patients? Two names come to mind, the Walton family (Walmart) and the Koch brothers (billionaire industrialists). These are people who can afford private care at any cost and enjoy almost limitless power. They have no conscience when it comes to the practical impact of this effort on nursing or health care. They are solely concerned with two things: money and power.
You have the power to make a difference. You have the freedom to choose to stand strong with RNs around the country. I challenge all RNs to do the following to ensure our voice remains strong:
- Just say no. If someone asks you to drop your membership in your union, just say no. It only serves to weaken your union and vastly diminish your ability to work on solutions to problems like safe staffing, workplace violence and nurse and patient safety. Every nurse matters, and we stand strong when we stand together.
- Be unafraid to discuss this issue with your colleagues. I’m calling on you all to have hard conversations and hold each other accountable for your decisions. If a nurse withdraws their membership, it’s a clear message to everyone that they are actively working against building union power. Expecting others to do the work needing to be done isn’t professional, and it’s not who we are as nurses. We’re better than that.
- Stay informed. Seek out information. Look at the data. Understand the rationale. Re-evaluate your position and reaffirm your commitment to stand united with your colleagues. When nurses stand together, amazing things can happen.
The call to action is now. Refuse to be swayed by slick sales tactics, repetitive untruths and party politics. Rely on your critical thinking abilities as a highly educated person and see through the smoke.
You want freedom? You have it. You have the freedom to choose to work in a union facility or not.
You want a choice? You have it. You have the choice to stand strong together or let outside, moneyed interests interfere with your ability to provide the best care possible to your patients.
You want power? You have it. Nurses standing together can move mountains! Imagine what we could accomplish if we refuse to allow politicians and business people to play at being nurses and doctors.
You want control? You have it. You control the trajectory of the labor movement.
I am honored to be in the company of such intelligent and professional health care practitioners. Nurses are the heart and soul of not only the health care industry in this country, but of each and every community in which we live and work. It’s time to come together and stand strong against a very real and imminent threat to all we hold dear. Will you stand with me?