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Support the Minnesota Nurses!

By Fight Back! Editors |
July 3, 2010
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Minneapolis, MN - On July 1 the Minnesota nurses’ union negotiating team reached a settlement with management, averting a strike. If they would have gone on strike, it would have been the largest nurses strike in U.S. history. The following is the text of a leaflet that Fight Back! prepared to distribute on the nurses’ picket lines during the strike. While the strike didn’t happen, we are sharing this leaflet because it lays out the importance of the nurses’ struggle in the context of the economic crisis.

Support the Minnesota Nurses!

Here in Minnesota, 12,000 nurses in six Twin Cities hospital systems have stood up to say “enough is enough” and have decided to go on strike. All workers and everyone who supports justice should do everything we can to help the nurses win this fight. The nurses need our solidarity -- their victory will be a victory for all workers. Join the picket lines, come to the rallies, put up a yard sign, write a letter to the editor, and talk to your coworkers and neighbors.

What Are the Nurses Fighting For?

The hospital corporations that the workers are striking against -- which made nearly $700 million in profits during 2009 -- are trying to increase staffing ratios to make each nurse take care of more patients at a time. The nurses are fighting for lower staffing ratios, so that they doesn’t have to take care of too many patients at one time. National studies prove time and again that lower nurse-to-patient ratios are critical when it comes to patient safety and quality of care.

The nurses are also fighting to defend their pensions, so they can retire in dignity after a lifetime of caring for others. Twin Cities hospitals are proposing to slash the nurses' pension fund by one third, moving it back to 1968 economic levels.

Why are the hospital executives so bent on risking patient safety by increasing nurse staffing ratios, and why do they want to cut the nurses’ pensions? Do they think that will result in better care for patients and a better life for nurses? Obviously not.

The hospital corporation executives only care about one thing -- making money. They want to make more and more money for themselves, even if it means worse care for patients and taking away nurses’ livelihoods. It’s unconscionable -- making money at the expense of sick people and the nurses that care for them.

But the economy is in crisis. And when capitalism goes into crisis, all that matters to the rich is preserving and increasing their bottom line. The way they do that is to try to make the workers pay through layoffs, pay cuts, or making workers do more work in less time. One way or another, the capitalists always try to squeeze the workers harder when capitalism is in crisis. The only way to stop this is for workers to fight back.

Stand Up, Fight Back!

The nurses are standing up and fighting back against their bosses’ greed. They are declaring that the safety of their patients, and their ability to retire securely after a lifetime of serving the needs of others, is more important than profits. They are right, and everyone who supports justice should stand with them.

Most workers live paycheck to paycheck, so going on strike and going without pay indefinitely to take a stand is a big deal. In fact its heroic. By standing up together and going on strike, the nurses are setting an example for all workers. Around the country, and even around the world people are watching the nurses strike, seeing the power that workers have, and gaining inspiration to fight back. The fight of the nurses in the Minnesota Nurses Association is an example to all workers. Stand with the nurses. Solidarity forever!