National Nurses United Convention Calls for Stepped Up
Push For Wall Street Transaction Tax to Fund Main
Michael Moore to NNU: `Your Movement on It is
National Nurses United
September 17, 2011
[photo: http://tinyurl.com/3mw65e9 ]
[video: http://tinyurl.com/3kd5ygy ]
Delegates to the second convention of National Nurses
United Friday called for a sweeping set of reforms to
address the economic crisis swamping American families,
and pledged to step up the campaign for a tax on Wall
Street financial transactions to pay for Main Street
On the final night of its 2011 Convention, NNU
delegates also heard from acclaimed filmmaker Michael
Moore who praised "your initiative to tax Wall Street.
It's so necessary. your movement on it is genius, it
has to happen."
NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro presents Main
Street Hero award to Michael Moore
"Nurses have a responsibility," said Massachusetts RN
Ann Marie McDonagh during the convention discussion "to
ensure that members of our society have access to basic
necessities such as living wages, adequate housing,
health care, nutritious food, clean water and robust
public facilities. Unfortunately, the numbers of
individuals and families in our country losing access
to these vital commodities are rapidly growing. This
constitutes a public health crisis."
"In my practice as a staff nurse in a downtown Boston
teaching hospital, I am seeing the effects of this
crisis every day," said McDonaugh at the NNU convention
in San Francisco. "More and more sick patients are
coming through our doors sicker and sicker by the day.
A nurses' union must do so much more than just
negotiate fair pay and decent working conditions. It
must use its power to promote the overall well being of
its members and the public they care for."
The resolution, adopted unanimously by the delegates of
NNU, the nation's largest union and professional
association of nurses in U.S. history, cites the
growing crisis in unemployment, hunger, poverty,
homelessness, un-payable medical bills, and growing
disparity in wealth. It emphasizes the need for
immediate action, and reinforces a campaign launched by
NNU in recent months to seek a tax on major Wall Street
trades of stocks, bonds, foreign currency bets,
derivatives, and other speculation. Ordinary consumer
activity would not be affected.
"I watch as my community suffers from unemployment,
foreclosures, and the loss of vital teachers, police
and firefighters," said another Massachusetts RN Karen
Coughlin. "Nurses in Massachusetts are being asked `why
are you doing this'. We, this country's nurses have
always had the courage to advocate for what is right,
whether it is the care at the bedside, or now, the care
for our country and the health of its future."
NNU members have been holding actions across the U.S.
this year in support of the program, which NNU calls a
Main Street Contract for the American People. Actions
have included major protests on Wall Street in New York
across from the New York Stock Exchange, in front of
the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in
Washington, and, earlier this month, a variety of
actions, from soup kitchens to sit ins, at 60 district
Congressional offices in 21 states.
"Nurses see the depth of this crisis every day, in our
patients willing to forego even life saving medical
treatment because they have no job, they've lost their
house, and they can't afford to co-pays or deductibles.
No one has to tell us there is an economic crisis and a
nation in free fall," said Jean Ross, NNU co-president
in a welcoming address to the convention Thursday.
Taking on the fight for the Main Street reforms
reflects a broad commitment by nurses, Ross said.
"That's what it means to be a society, to be a
community, of people caring for each other. And that's
the very essence of what it means to be a nurse. Nurses
know how to diagnose an illness, how to develop a care
"That's what our Main Street campaign is all about,
along with our prescription of how to pay for it - by
taxing those Wall Street banks and speculators who
created this crisis. I am so proud that we have taken
on this campaign, and I know all of you are too. It's a
fight for our future, and one we dare not lose," Ross
On Friday, NNU presented a Main Street Hero to Moore,
praising his lifetime of work, especially his far
sighted indictment of the healthcare industry in
"SiCKO." "In Michaels' world you take sides," said NNU
Co-president Deborah Burger, RN. "He is on the side of
Main Street. Has been; always will be. That's what
makes him a Main Street hero."
In his speech, Moore, who is on a tour with his new
book "Here Comes Trouble," described his horror during
a speech the night before at Bunker Hill Community
College in Boston, when he saw the school president
"hand out envelopes for the student emergency funds" to
help the students, most of whom had to also work in
full time jobs often at near minimum wage while in
school, just to help them pay for gas or car repairs.
"It's not my America where we have to beg for money for
education for our children. It is immoral, it is wrong,
and the same thing could be said when it comes to
Moore recalled how NNU members toured the U.S. with him
for the premieres of "SiCKO" joining in public events
promoting Medicare for all, single payer reform. "I was
always relieved when the nurses showed up," he said
adding the themes of "SiCKO" are "still more than
relevant four years later. The American people want
real, universal healthcare, not semi-universal
healthcare in 2014, and they want it now."
Earlier on Friday, the convention also heard from a
panel of international nurses talking about their
campaigns for safer patient care and how the global
economic crisis is affecting people around the world.
South Korean nurse leader Soon Ja Na, RN said
conditions in Korea are "not much different than in the
U.S., with attacks on working people and on health and
She noted that Korean nurses and U.S. nurses have
issued joint opposition to the Korean-U.S. Free Trade
Agreement which, she said, will "only make it easier
for corporations to make money and worsen the lives of
workers in both countries," and hasten efforts by
transnational healthcare corporations to push a U.S.-
style privatized healthcare system in Korea.
Working people in the United Kingdom have been waging a
similar fight, noted British RN Jayne Hornby. She cited
mass protests against the government efforts to erode
the UK's National Health Service, "but we will not give
up and not lose something so close to our hearts that
is a foundation of a modern society."
NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro praised the
"power, commitment, courage and depth of nurses across
the world. We all face the same story. You are the
people who can breathe life in this world."
DeMoro told of an NNU member being asked at a public
rally in San Francisco for the Main Street campaign and
Wall Street tax "why nurse are out here on this. He
said, `to save your life'." That's the campaign nurses
will continue, she said.
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