Honor Dr. King’s fight for economic justice with tax on Wall Street
From Maine to California, nurses, students, HIV/AIDS and community activists, took to the streets today calling on Congress to fulfill the quest of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for economic justice by enacting a tax on Wall Street speculation to fund efforts to reverse inequality.
"The Inclusive Prosperity Act would make Dr. King proud," said Rep. Keith Ellison at a kick off press conference in Washington against the backdrop of the U.S. Capitol.
National Nurses United Vice President Sandy Falwell, RN
Rep. Keith Ellison, author of HR 1579
"This is a holy day, a sacred day," Ellison continued. April 4 is a day America remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was on this day 46 years ago that he was assassinated, slain while in Memphis to provide support to city sanitation workers as part of a campaign for worker justice and to fight poverty.
And on this day in 2014 Rep. Ellison spoke of the Robin Hood Tax, embodied in his bill, H.R. 1579, a sales tax on Wall Street speculative trading that would create hundreds of billions of dollars a year in revenue for communities in need, a way to attain the economic equality Dr. King was seeking.
Big gathering in Chicago for the Robin Hood tax for economic justice
Vigils to honor Dr. King’s legacy, and call for enactment of HR 1579 were also held at Congressional offices in 24 cities from coast to coast, and letters of support delivered to Congress members at 44 other offices this day as well.
In Washington, Bill Lucy, president emeritus of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, who was with King in April, 1968, stood today outside the Capitol with Ellison remembering King and calling for passage of the Ellison Bill.
"The Inclusive Prosperity Act really is a vehicle to continue the work of Martin Luther King Jr.," said Lucy. "The sanitation workers of Memphis wanted decency and dignity," he remembered. "Keith Ellison wants economic fairness. I applaud him."
"The originators of the idea for the tax are nurses," said Ellison, introducing Sandy Falwell, RN, a national vice president of National Nurses United.
“Registered nurses are on the front lines of this calamity as many of the patients we care for in hospitals around the country are coming to us with multiple illnesses aggravated by poverty and a delay in seeking care because they simply cannot afford it. They have to choose to eat or get health care,” said Falwell. “Too many people in this country are forced to choose whether to take medications or try to pay their rent, and in a country such as ours with such tremendous wealth, this is unconscionable.”
"America is our patient," declared Falwell. "The Inclusive Prosperity Act is a vital step to funding programs Dr. King stood for."
'Heal Detroit' say nurses, activists in Detroit
Falwell and others talked of jobs to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure, quality schools and healthcare, retirement with dignity, funds for a clean environment, all goals of the H.R. 1579.
Nurses, activists call on Rep. George Miller, Concord, Ca to support the Robin Hood tax
"We will push this forward. The Robin Hood Tax is real hope for a just economy," added Rep. Barbara Lee, a co-sponsor of HR 1579 who was also present outside the Capitol to remember Dr. King this day. "The American dream," she warned, "is turning into an American nightmare."
In recent weeks, investigations of high speed trading on financial markets have underscored the negative effects these trades have on the U.S. economy. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that high speed trading programs "can encourage traders to engage in strategies that boost volumes but harm other investors."
High speed trades are also linked to price rises in gas, food and other essentials. H.R. 1579, say economists, will serve to diminish this harmful trading. That was echoed at today's press conference. Said Ellison, "H.R. 1579 will make super fast trades unprofitable."
Rev. Rodney Sadler, Moral Mondays leader
Reverend Rodney Sadler was present, as well. A leader of the "Moral Mondays" in North Carolina, he spoke of the struggle for justice in that state. "Will we allow the poor to be overlooked, forgotten and invisible?" asked Sadler. "Prosperity is something that should be inclusive. The Inclusive Prosperity Act will go a long way to meet needs in housing, employment, education, for veterans and for the elderly."
New York City activists call for Robin Hood tax
Amanda Lugg came to the event from Harlem where she is director of advocacy for the African Services Committee. She is also a board member of Health GAP. H.R. 1579 is committed to raising U.S. contributions to international efforts to research and treat HIV/AIDS. "We can end the AIDS epidemic in 30 years," said Lugg. "Half the people who need AIDS medicine go without. That ain't right."
"The Robin Hood Tax," Lugg said, "can save lives and restore human dignity." She reminded the press conference that, for 11 nations in Europe, next month is the start date for their Robin Hood Tax.
The time to join in is now.
NNU Nurses Win Historic Victory at MedStar Health!
Management Finally Agrees to Reimburse Nurses for Increased Healthcare Costs for 2012 and 2013
After three arbitration decisions by two separate arbitrators and a federal judge’s order, hospital management has entered into a settlement agreement with nurses represented by National Nurses United to repay nurses for nearly all increases in out-of-pocket costs and premium increases for calendar years 2012 and 2013. The reimbursements will be applicable to NNU members at Washington Hospital Center who enroll in the company’s Care First healthcare plan. This settlement comes after MedStar Health “materially diminished” our health benefits by increasing out-of-pocket costs and premiums in an effort to drive nurses to use MedStar Health exclusively for health services. These changes had the effect of reducing the viable healthcare options available to nurses and their families rather than allowing nurses to use their professional judgment when seeking care for their families. This ruling is a credit to the strength of our NNU contract, which requires management to maintain certain standards for registered nurses, and the perseverance of NNU nurses who demanded that management follow our collective bargaining agreement.
This information also availble in PDF here >>
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why will NNU nurses receive reimbursements for healthcare expenses?
A. Two arbitrators ruled that Washington Hospital Center management violated our collective bargaining agreement by “materially diminishing” our health benefits. The arbitrators ordered management to repay nurses for changes to the healthcare plan in calendar years 2012 and 2013.
Q. When will nurses begin receiving checks?
A. Checks will be issued in two steps. Nurses will first be reimbursed for calendar year 2012 after NNU is provided with data that details the total reimbursement due to each nurse. According to the agreement, NNU will be provided this information by the end of the week. Nurses will be reimbursed for calendar year 2013 after NNU is provided with similar information about the amounts to be reimbursed to nurses. That information is due by May 15, 2014.
Q. Do I need to do anything to receive a check?
A. Nurses will not need to do anything to receive a check but nurses should study the reimbursements carefully to make sure that you are being reimbursed for the full amount due. If a nurse believes that his or her reimbursement is incorrect, the nurse will need to fill out a HIPAA release form so that NNU can investigate the discrepancy.
Q. Does this settlement resolve our dispute over healthcare changes in calendar year 2014?
A. No, we are still in the process of disputing changes made for the current calendar year.
Q. Doesn’t SEIU Local 722 have similar contract language to dispute healthcare changes? Will our co-workers represented by Local 722 receive reimbursements?
A. Yes, Local 722 has similar contract language that allows the union to challenge changes made to the health plan. Local 722 members should contact their union leadership in order to inquire about their reimbursements.
Details of the Reimbursement Agreement between NNU and WHC can be found here in PDF >>
TELL YOUT REPS: RNs Oppose Right to Work’ and Support Safe Patient Handling (HB 2612)
Tell Your State Representative RNs Oppose Right to Work’ and ‘Paycheck Protection and RNs Support Safe Patient Lift Legislation (HB 2612)
Missouri nurses, patients and unions are under attack in Jefferson City! We need to oppose such attacks, while fighting for the Safe Lift legislation that our patients deserve.
Opposition to ‘Right to Work’ and ‘Paycheck Protection’
This week RNs from across MO mobilized to Jefferson CIty to meet with legislators over the course of the day and joined with unions from around the state for a noon rally to send the message that so-called ‘Right to Work’ (RTW) and ‘Paycheck Protection’ laws pose a safety threat to Missouri patients and communities.
RTW states rank worse, on average, than union shop states on a wide range of social and public health outcomes including a higher prevalence of smoking, occupational fatalities, child poverty, infant mortality, preventable hospitalizations and cardiovascular deaths.” (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics Survey 2008)
Additionally, strong unions provide RNs with a collective voice to advocate for the needs of patients at the bedside. Non-union nurses are often fearful that speaking up against unsafe patient care and conditions will result in retribution from their employers.
“My union allows me to be a better patient advocate, said Marchelle Bettis, an RN at Saint Louis University Hospital. “We negotiated patient care protections and a process to track unsafe practices and negotiate ongoing improvements. These laws will weaken our contract and impair our ability to be effective patient advocates.”
Support for Safe Patient Handling (HB 2612)
As part of our lobby day, we also spoke to legislators to seek their support for the ‘Safe Patient Handling and Movement Act’ (HB 2162), sponsored by Representative Judy Morgan, which puts in place known solutions available to reduce an increasing number of patient and caregiver injuries, resulting from lifting patients.
HB 2162 provides uniform safety standards by replacing manual lifting and transferring of patients with powered patient transfer devices, lifting devices and designated lift teams available at all times.
Nurses and other healthcare workers top truck drivers as the profession with the highest rate of occupational injuries, and annual costs associated with these injuries in the U.S. approximately $7,400,000,000.
CALL NOW at 1-888-825-1418 and you will be connected to your State Representative. Remind your State Representative that nurses OPPOSE all "Right to Work" and "Paycheck Deception" bills and that nurses SUPPORT HB 2162 the ‘Safe Patient Handling and Movement Act’.
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