National Nurses United will oppose right-wing so-called “right to work” legislation being introduced in the House of Representatives today that they say poses a significant threat to public health and safety that would also threaten to reduce living standards for millions of American workers.
“Under the façade of protecting worker’s right, this bill is nothing short of a full scale assault on living standards for all workers that would seriously erode the ability of working people to speak out when public protections are at risk,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.
States with “right to work” laws have lower wages, worse healthcare outcomes including lower life expectancies, and higher workplace injury and death rates, data has shown. Even the promise of improved business climate is illusory, said NNU.
Far right Congress members Steve King of Iowa and Joe Wilson of South Carolina are introducing the bill that has been on the wish list of the nation’s biggest and wealthiest corporate interests for years, and has also been pushed in state legislatures across the country.
It would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require all employees in a unionized work place to pay fees to support the work of the union in negotiating improvements in their pay, benefits and working conditions. Federal law already provides for exemptions.
“The real goal of ‘right-to-work’ has nothing to do with free speech or worker rights, and everything to do with increasing employer profits and suppression of the ability of workers to act collectively to improve their conditions and advocate for the public interest,” said DeMoro.
Further, she noted, “these laws are also intended to deprive unions of the resources they need in a corporate dominated political system to participate in the electoral process and elect candidates who will stand for worker rights, not corporate profits.”
“In healthcare, eroding the collective rights of nurses is particularly dangerous. Through their union, NNU members are able to have far greater strength to advocate for a broad range of patient protections and serve as a public watchdog of violations of patient safety by corporate healthcare employers,” said DeMoro.
“Without the protection of a union, nurses have fewer protections from retaliation speaking out about unsafe hospital and clinic conditions which is even more of a concern under an administration that is aggressively seeking to roll back all public regulatory protections,” DeMoro added.
“RNs understand this fact. That’s why thousands of nurses around the country have joined NNU in the past few years to gain the power to effectively advocate for themselves and their patients, making NNU one of the fastest growing unions in America,” DeMoro said.
In, 20 of 24 key measures affecting public health and safety “right to work” states, rank lower on average in poverty rates children, infant morality, cardiovascular deaths, access to primary care physicians and mental health services, infectious disease control, occupational fatalities, and many other factors compiled by America’s Health Rankings http://www.americashealthrankings.org/.
“Nurses will never be silent in the face of attacks on their rights to advocate for public health and safety, or their right to form unions and act collectively for their own livelihood and working conditions,” said DeMoro. “NNU and nurses know how to fight, and we know how to win.”
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