Let’s Support the Thousands of NYC Nurses Who Are Preparing to Strike

Over 10,000 unionized personal sector nurses in New York Metropolis may strike over the following two weeks. Nurses thus far have overwhelmingly voted to strike (nearly 99% as of December 22) with voting nonetheless open for some. NYSNA submitted an official strike notice to eight hospitals, stating:

“At this time, Friday, December 30, we delivered a 10-day strike discover to administration. Our strike begins January 9 at 6:00 a.m., if administration doesn’t select to make use of the following 10 days to make critical and cheap proposals that obtain a settlement.”

Related strike notices — that are required by regulation as a part of the anti-labor authorized framework of the U.S. — are more likely to be served at different main NYC personal sector hospitals within the coming days. Ominously, on December 31 the Presbyterian-Columbia bargaining unit introduced {that a} tentative settlement (TA) had been reached, affecting roughly 3-4 thousand nurses. Particulars of that TA are nonetheless being launched but it surely appears possible that Presbyterian nurses is not going to be hanging within the quick time period. Each contract have to be ratified by the membership, nonetheless, and Presbyterian nurses have the facility to vote down the present TA in the event that they deem it subpar.

Public hospital nurses are additionally represented by NYSNA and work in substandard situations with decrease pay and understaffed services. These important employees are constantly instructed they can not strike as a consequence of New York State’s draconian Taylor Law which prohibits public sector strikes. Nonetheless, with the general public sector nurses’ contract expiring March 2 of this 12 months, this essential sector may assist impress the labor motion and problem anti-labor legal guidelines which hamstring public sector unions. Whether or not employed by the general public or personal sector, nurses should make widespread trigger and hyperlink up with broader allies within the labor motion, together with different hospital and nursing house employees.

This battle unfolds amidst the broader uptick in union exercise within the U.S., which has included union drives at Amazon, Starbucks, many tech firms, and amongst educational employees. This month, the longest ever educational employees’ strike concluded on the College of California. Adjuncts at NYC’s New Faculty additionally had a combative strike in 2022. In the UK, a large 100,000 nursing strike was known as in mid December, with threats of renewed strike motion in January if calls for should not met. These examples illustrate that nurses are a part of a broader impetus of working class exercise. Removed from being siloed off from different sectors, nurses work together with each strata of society every day, and are persistently ranked because the “most trusted” professionals. The potential strike in NYC presents a chance for the employees motion to start 2023 with a badly-needed present of power.

What’s at Stake?

The nursing sector is likely one of the largest branches of the workforce, using over three million folks within the U.S. This union-dense area is essential for public well being and nurses had been rightly praised as heroes throughout the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, working below the constraints of a for-profit healthcare system implies that earnings come earlier than folks. Well being care is a vastly profitable sector, which in lots of circumstances, increased profits because of COVID-19. The trade is run by boardroom executives and high-level bureaucrats whereas the individuals who really deal with sufferers and hold the hospitals and clinics working have little to no say over something.

Within the present contract battle between New York’s unionized nurses and the hospital bosses, binding nurse-to-patient ratios stay a significant supply of rivalry and are a outstanding contract demand. The union’s battle for protected staffing ranges is sort of actually a life-or-death battle for the complete working class, significantly within the age of Covid when upwards of a million folks died within the U.S. This demise toll was significantly excessive within the U.S. due to persistent underfunding of public well being methods, and the essential “for revenue” mannequin which prioritizes cash of individuals. One study estimated that 200,000 folks may have been saved below a public well being system.

Even earlier than the pandemic, nurses — and healthcare employees extra broadly — had been compelled to deal with increasingly more sufferers in much less time. When COVID-19 hit NYC in early 2020, the toll was excessive for sufferers and well being suppliers alike. As RN and NYSNA president Nancy Hagans remarked:

“…Nurses have been to hell and again, risking our lives to save lots of our sufferers all through the COVID-19 pandemic, generally with out the PPE we wanted to maintain ourselves protected, and too usually with out sufficient employees for protected affected person care.”

The cruel actuality is that private-hospital bosses have put revenue maximization over folks’s lives, creating worse hospitals for employees and sufferers alike. Politicians from each events, resembling New York’s now-disgraced former governor, Andrew Cuomo, have systematically starved public hospitals of badly wanted assets for many years. These elements contributed closely to making a healthcare system that buckled below the pandemic and prompted untold struggling.

Your complete working class has a direct stake within the nurses’ battle: a victorious strike may heighten class consciousness, enhance affected person outcomes, scale back burnout amongst healthcare suppliers, win long-overdue pay and scheduling calls for, in addition to dealing a well-deserved blow to the criminals working the American healthcare trade for revenue.

From Stifled Rage to Open Revolt

Whereas nursing pays comparatively properly, significantly on the higher funded hospitals and journey nurse businesses, the easy fact is that almost all U.S. nurses are sad with their jobs and dealing situations. According to one survey from 2021, 90% of survey respondents had been contemplating leaving the occupation. A unique survey from March 2022 discovered that one third of nurses deliberate to depart their careers by the tip of 2022, citing high-stress and burnout as a high motive.

This stress and burnout has been naturalized inside the system of for-profit well being care. Persevering with care and public sector nurses, specifically, are sometimes compelled to navigate chaotic and inhumane workplaces for even decrease pay than their counterparts in different sectors. That many nurses lacked primary Private Protecting Gear throughout the pandemic was only one extra indignity amongst many.

The seeds of revolt amongst U.S. nurses have already begun to sprout. Many nursing strikes occurred in 2022, together with a three-day 15,000-person walk-out by the Minnesota Nurses Affiliation. Nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital in Massachusetts had been out on strike for nearly a 12 months. Becker’s Hospital Review recognized 18 separate nursing strikes in whole for 2022. In 2019, a big nurses strike was solely averted in New York Metropolis when parts inside union management accepted a toothless contract that claimed to attain “protected staffing” however lacked any mechanism for enforcement. The following 12 months, within the midst of the pandemic, round 200 nurses at Montefiore struck for protected staffing ratios for 2 days. This transfer by the union paperwork and the general expertise of the 2019 battle ought to function a warning as the present contract battle unfolds.

All Out to Assist the Nurses’ Battle!

Because the January 9 strike deadline approaches, constructing the broadest doable solidarity will probably be key. If the hospital bosses sense weak spot, they are going to be emboldened to battle the union more durable. However, an outpouring of solidarity by employees throughout industries will weaken the resolve of the bosses and embolden the nurses. Union militants, the organized left, healthcare advocates, and everybody who has a shred of compassion or solidarity: now’s the time to become involved!

There are various duties that have to be taken up if this battle is to be decisively received, together with:

  • Educating buddies, household and coworkers about what’s at stake
  • Creating picket help teams, by means of which broader allies can become involved—Doing outreach to different sectors of hospital employees, a lot of whom are unionized
  • Utilizing social media to construct help for the nurses’ battle
  • Inviting nurses to talk at membership conferences of different unions to construct solidarity, or
  • in any other case organizing boards for militant nurses to elucidate about their battle
  • Creating leaflets and different materials aimed toward constructing help among the many normal public

The above record is on no account complete, however fairly preliminary concepts for broadening the nurses’ battle and constructing energetic solidarity. When you’d prefer to become involved within the solidarity efforts being organized by Left Voice and Bread and Roses, please attain out to us at contact@leftvoice.org