In Chicago, Nurses Rally for "Robin Hood" Tax

Story Transcript

VOICEOVER: On Friday, May 18th, several thousand nurses belonging to the National Nurses United union rallied in downtown Chicago’s Daley plaza to host what they have dubbed the people’s G8. The action coincides with a number of mobilizations planned over the weekend in Chicago, which was set to host both the G8 and NATO summits. The federal government decided to move the G8 Summit to Camp David in a remote part of Maryland, citing security concerns over the large protests planned against the economic and military conferences.

DAVID DOUGHERTY: The nurses are continuing their demands for what they’re calling a Robin Hood tax, which would charge half of 1 percent for all financial transactions on Wall Street over 100 dollars, which they say could generate an estimated 350 billion dollars per year.

VOICEOVER: RoseAnne DeMoro is the executive director of National Nurses United, the largest registered nurse union in the country. She says that rather than spending public funds on the military and US interventions abroad, the Robin Hood tax could be used to pay for a variety of social services at home that have been slashed in the wake of austerity measures.

ROSEANE DEMORO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: We would reorganize the priorities and spend it on human beings, on healthcare, jobs, libraries, teachers, things that actually part of a society that build society and build hope, our legislators, our electives are off track, the nurses are here to get them on track.

VOICEOVER: Chicago’s current Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff under the Obama Administration Rahm Emmanuel had threatened to cancel the rally and move it to a new location further away from downtown after it was announced that musician Tom Morello, formerly of Rage Against the Machine, would be performing at the event. The nurses fought back and won, and the energized rally was carried out peacefully and without any confrontations with the massive police presence that has flooded downtown Chicago ahead of the NATO summit. DeMoro says the nurses are at the forefront of challenging traditional labor politics in the US by jumping onboard a growing international movement.

ROSEANNE DEMORO: I do think we have a more class conscious line we don’t act like we’re not working people we don’t act like everyone’s middle class and we’re in this together, it’s the paradigm the labor movement has bought into, making people think there are no sides, there are sides: the 1 percent is taking it away form the 99 percent and so we want a financial transaction tax where we can get it back and restore our communities and jumpstart a new strategic approach to the economy invested in the people in this country and worldwide we’re joined in movement 40 countries are already part of the Robin Hood movement and the Robin Hood tax and we’re bringing it to America.

VOICEOVER: DeMoro asserts that the upcoming elections and the Democratic party’s comfortable relationship with organized labor are not as relevant to working people’s lives as the creation of popular movements that elect officials into office who are held accountable to the people that elect them rather than corporate interests.

RoseAnne Demoro: We actually have to change the way we do politics I could go on and on about how disappointing Democrats are but the truth of the matter is both parties have failed this country, we need a people’s movement that elects people, puts them in office and holds them accountable, that’s what we’re more interested in, grassroots populist nurses all the other people represent a movement and magnitude that this country hasn’t seen in many many years.

VOICEOVER: Many more actions have been planned ahead of the 2-day NATO Summit, which is expected to draw thousands of protestors to downtown Chicago. SIGNOUT.