FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The War on Nurses

by SETH SANDRONSKY

A May 24 article in the NY Times noted a provision in the recently passed Senate immigration reform bill that expands the number of foreign nurses who may work in the U.S. The article cited a national shortage of nurses for the removal of the current restriction on nurses from abroad. Lifting this cap on immigration is the idea of Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, and backed by the American Hospital Association.

Strikingly, the Senate’s immigration provision for the labor shortage of U.S. nurse contrasts with policy for medical doctors, of whom there is a supposed shortage. Crucially, there is a government cap on the number of foreign physicians who may practice medicine in the U.S. Thus domestic doctors, the most highly paid in the industrialized world, are insulated from foreign job competition.

Since the Vietnam War ended, the weakening of U.S. blue-collar workers, protection from foreign competition has driven down their real wages, or what their pay can buy. The Senate’s provision in its immigration bill will exert similar pressure on the wages of native-born nurses. One needs no formal economics training to grasp these basics of labor supply and demand.

An excess of job-seekers allows employers to lower wage rates. A shortage of workers enables them to ask for and get increased pay.

Also on May 24, the Wall Street Journal reported that a ruling by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board could change the legal status of some of the nation,s nurses. At stake is their collective-bargaining status. An upcoming NLRB ruling that could define nurses as being supervisory would exclude thousands of nurses from joining labor unions.

President Bush appointed each of the five NLRB members. It follows that they share his vision of an “ownership society. It privileges individualism in contrast to the ideals of social solidarity that, historically, has been a factor for the organized labor movement in the U.S.

Politically, the GOP is no ally of labor unions, especially those that are progressive. Take the California Nurses Association, which has backed a national health care program for years. In 2005, the CNA also launched a loud push-back that helped to defeat Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s costly special election to weaken the living and working standards of labor union members in the government and private sectors.

An NLRB ruling reclassifying nurses as supervisors would reduce the number of unionized nurses in the U.S. Their corporate employers such as the American Hospital Association would benefit in at least two ways.

First, overtime wage rates would likely drop or disappear for salaried nurse supervisors. Second, a re-classified job status via a NLRB ruling would hamper organized labor,s effort to expand the number of union nurses.

The CNA-led win in 2005 over Gov. Schwarzenegger points the way to countering the Senate and NLRB,s one-two punching of U.S. nurses. Imagine the example of the California nurses, triumph against the state GOP machine expanded nationwide. The CNA,s strategy of publicly facing up to Gov. Schwarzenegger worked well; it can with adjustments also work against Washington,s enemies of labor union members.

SETH SANDRONSKY is a member of Sacramento Area Peace Action and a co-editor of Because People Matter, Sacramento’s progressive paper. He can be reached at ssandron@hotmail.com

 

 

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Emailsethsandronsky@gmail.com

More articles by:
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail