FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The War on Nurses

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

 

 

More articles by:

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

March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”
Dean Baker
In Praise of Budget Deficits
Howard Lisnoff
Want Your Kids to Make it Big in the World of Elite Education in the U.S.?
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence
John W. Whitehead
Pity the Nation: War Spending is Bankrupting America
Priti Gulati Cox
“Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!” The Human Story
Missy Comley Beattie
On Our Knees
Mike Garrity – Carole King
A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat
Robert Fantina
The Media-Created Front Runners
Tom Clifford
Bloody Sunday and the Charging of Soldier F
Ron Jacobs
All the Livelong Day      
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail