Nurses link increasing poverty to health problems, demand Wall St. tax as way of funding solutions
DAVID DOUGHERTY, TRNN: Nurses in the United States are leading the fight to take on Wall Street. Dozens of actions organized on September 1 and in recent weeks have drawn thousands across the country as nurses led by the National Nurses United union demand a transaction tax on Wall Street to offset the effects of economic hardship that are sending ripples through the nationâ€
MARGARET SHANKS, REGISTERED NURSE, PRESIDENT, DC NURSES ASSOCIATION: We are trying to address the fact that nurses across the country are working with less. We have more patients. The patients that donâ€
DOUGHERTY: The NNU has proposed a â€œMain Street Contractâ€ which could potentially raise $350 billion dollars in public revenues by imposing a 0.5% tax on certain financial trading transactions involving stocks, bonds, and derivatives. Many other countries already impose similar taxes, and nurses are also calling for living wage jobs, access to quality public education, guaranteed health care, secure retirement, fair housing, and safe environmental standards, which are all factors they see as contributing to a
worsening public health crisis.
SHANKS: We are trying to form a contract with the American people and the basis of that is if we were to tax the wall street transactions which is what weâ€
DOUGHERTY: Poverty levels in the United States recently climbed to their highest levels in 17 years as 15.1% of Americans found themselves living below the poverty line with millions of single mothers and children hit especially hard in the wake of a worsening economic crisis. The number of uninsured Americans also surged to itâ€
health problems that nurses are experiencing with greater frequency in hospitals across the country.
SHANKS: Stress makes things not go well with the body you canâ€
DOUGHERTY: Many nurses participating in the actions see worsening health indicators and a decline in the quality of health services as tied to broader processes of privatization and budget cuts. President Obamaâ€
SHANKS: The larger corporations that own these hospitals they are benefiting, their profit margin is through the ceiling, so they are already making benefits and theyâ€
DOUGHERTY: Nurses are not only feeling the pressure of unsafe nurse to patient ratios and other side-effects of budget cuts, they are also facing threats to their benefits and pay packages. A number of strikes have already been held this year, and nurses declare that there will be more if fair contracts are not negotiated with management.
SHANKS: Nurses across the country are being attacked when our contracts are up for renewal. I mean, we have nursing units striking. I mean, we recently had strikes in Minnesota. California may be having a strike in the very near future within the week, because, they want to take back the benefits that the contracts already have. They want to make the nurses pay more into their health care and when they attack and try to take away form the benefits weâ€
tried to get it makes it harder on the profession to draw other people in.
DOUGHERTY: The nurses have vowed to continue organizing demonstrations as part of their pledge to heal America and tax Wall Street. They are becoming a more visible leading voice in the growing movement to hold Wall Street accountable to an increasingly frustrated and struggling American public. This is David Dougherty for The Real News Network.
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