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Nurses Union Ditches Scrubs, Dons Robin Hood Hats for Protest

Nurses are among the many voices who spoke out against the NATO Summit in Chicago.

“Our union really is more about being a social movement than just being a regular union that takes care of problems in the workplace,” said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger.

Nurses Rally (Photo by Ashlee Rezin)

They say they advocate for healthcare not warfare.

“We have the best contracts in the galaxy, but we also want to make sure that when we’re taking care of patients they can afford their health care. We want to make sure that they can take care of their family. It doesn’t do us any good to be able to provide health care or nursing care only to send them home to a park bench,” Burger said.

National Nurses United, a three-year-old union of more than 170,000 registered nurses, held a rally in Daley Plaza on Friday. Drawing from its bottomless well of empathy, the group danced, sang and cheered not for the rights of its members but for the rights of all Americans.

NNU is advocating a Robin Hood tax of .5 percent on financial transactions on the highest earning tax bracket .

“With less than half a penny per transaction we can raise billions to provide medicare for all, college for all, rebuild our infrastructure and heal this economy,” said Casey Hobbs of Nurse Talk Radio in San Fransisco.

Karen Higgins, another NNU co-president, said that many people were asking why nurses care about this cause, and what they know about the economy.

“We’re watching this every day,” was her answer.

“We’re watching patients suffer. We’re watching people coming in and why they’re there is because they have no insurance. Some even have insurance and can’t pay co-pays. We do not accept this, in this country. This has to end now.”

“The nurses have got America’s back and we are going to take care of it,” Higgins promised.

California Nurses Association President DeAnn McEwen echoed these sentiments.

“I’m not an economist but I see how the economics and the failed policies have harmed the real patients that I take care of every day,” she said. “Nurses are here today because we see the harm being done, especially in this economy. [Patients] are suffering and dying of treatable, preventable conditions because they lack access to healthcare.”

“We’re here talking about a solution that will help save people’s lives.

McEwen said that if we are serious about jobs, poverty and basic human needs we must have a source of revenue.

“We cant cut our way out of this crisis because some cuts are not going to heal. They’ve already cut back social services for women, children and people that are jobless. You know it just means misery and suffering for those who rely on them,” said McEwen.

“[There is] public trust that we are going to do the right thing on their behalf in terms of advocacy,” she said.

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