Those who can’t, organize

JULY 16, 2010

When did nurses, teachers, cops and firefighters become card-carrying union brotherhood and sisterhood thugs? Service jobs used to be defined as jobs where caring for others was the priority; teaching children, providing health and medical care, and protecting society from bad guys and catastrophic events, was job-one.

But with the advent of political power from within the unions, service jobs seem to have taken a back seat to union activities for many in these professions. Job-one became “Union YES!”

Thursday of this week, looking more like a CodePink gathering than nursing professionals, a rally took place by nurses at the home of gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in Atherton, CA.  More than 1,100 well-organized nurses arrived in buses carrying signs and banners stating, “Nurses won’t be pushed around.”

CBS5 reported several nurses claiming, “Our pensions, our union rights, were threatened,” and “We need to stand up and fight this person.” Protesting nurses yelled and chanted, “We’re going to beat back the Whitman attack.” The union hired a plane to fly over Whitman’s house with a banner that read, “Nurses say no to Whitman.”

Sarah Pompei, the spokeswoman for the Whitman campaign said that Whitman has requested many meetings with the nurses. Pompei provided six letters written to the nurses asking for opportunities to meet and explain Whitman’s positions on issues pertaining to nursing and health care. Whitman has also asked for the mailing list of the nurses union membership in order to send a letter to members, but the request was denied.

In a statement, Pompei said of the rally, “The radical leadership of the California Nurses Association has decided to spend untold thousands of dollars from members’ dues on a stunt. Have they surveyed their membership to ask whether they agree with the expenditure? How many nurses are being forced to use sick days to attend this political theater?” in a statement?

In an attempt to quell the myths surrounding her positions on health care, Whitman’s campaign created a website called “TRUTH FOR NURSES” to reach out to nurse members, and explain Whitman’s positions on nursing and health care, as well as the explosive issue of nursing ratios. The site also provides reports on how the California Nurses Association spends the dues money of member nurses.

Rose Ann DeMoro, the head of the California Nurses Association is not a nurse. De Moro’s husband is a physician and is also a union leader. Whitman’s Web site reports that “DeMoro is currently is paid more than $293,000 a year, nearly five times more than the median salary of a nurse in the United States. DeMoro’s husband, Robert, is also on the California Nurses Association’s payroll, with a salary of $142,254.”

Many actual nurses – those who are not participatory in union activities and derive their income from caring for patients — have called in to radio talk shows expressing their frustration with the union. One caller this week to the Eric Hogue radio show in Sacramento said she couldn’t give her real name and was fearful her coworkers would find out she had called. She said that the primary concern nurses have is not politics, but rather nurse-to-patient ratios. She said that she pays more than $100 out of her paychecks every month to the union and does not have a choice in the dues. She said other nurses disagree with the union activities as well as the spending on politics, but they fear the union activists. I have heard many calls just like this one to radio shows by teachers, police officers and nurses whose job is the primary focus, but the union activities interfere.

Isn’t that the way with all of the employee unions? The majority of police, teachers, firefighters and nurses just want to perform their chosen job and have representation at contract renewal time. However, reports of union pressures on individuals who speak out has become an increasing problem.

A public school teacher I spoke with said that working in his school are several active teachers union representatives. He’s a closet conservative and has anti-union ideology but fears his fellow teachers will find out. He said he has personally witnessed teachers who have spoken out against the union get blacklisted within the school, have their classrooms moved to undesirable or even unsafe areas of the school, and even receive discipline for trumped-up and false charges, in order to get them fired.

I personally know several police officers who are not union thugs, but also know a couple of cops who are total thugs. The thug behavior I’ve witnessed has nothing to do with policing, just as the teacher union thugs have nothing to do with teaching, and is born out of an entitlement mentality.

Unfortunately, many teachers who have failed in the classroom find themselves in school administration instead. Others gravitate to union leadership. The thug cops I know are no different.

When will the real nurses, teachers and police officers file class action suits against their unions in order to take back control?

Those who can teach, nurse or police — those who can’t, administer, march, chant, rally and agitate, undermining their own professions.

Nurses Protest ‘Queen Meg’ (Video)

–Katy Grimes

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  1. Wayne Martin
    Wayne Martin 16 July, 2010, 13:38

    This problem of “mission creep” occurs in any organization, over time. Where Unions are concerned, it ultimately combines with outside forces to kill the host. We’ve seen this with the US railroads, the merchant marine, the steel industry, the car industry and the pattern is well established in the “government industry”.

    The Sinking of Bethlehem Steel:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/33032120/The-Sinking-of-Bethlehem-Steel

    While unions will not put government “out of business”, it’s clear that the only real response is to dismantle the “state” and outsource government responsibilities to the private sector, as well as reorganize the service delivery model, such as merging City governments, or merging City government functions (such as fire and police), in an effort to leverage various economies of scale to continue to provide essential services that do not bankrupt us all.

    Dealing with unions, one way or another, will be on our plates for a long, long, time.

    Reply this comment
  2. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 16 July, 2010, 16:59

    “Thugs”? Damn, Katy, you really are a right-wing ideologue, aren’t you. Because firefighters and other public servants band together to fight for their rights, you brand them “thugs.” That is sick, period.

    Reply this comment
  3. EastBayLarry
    EastBayLarry 17 July, 2010, 06:22

    SteveFromSacto:
    “That is sick…”
    Speaking of sick Steve, have you ever considered the sick patients who have to suffer through a nurse strike? Where is your ‘pity’ for them?

    Reply this comment
  4. Joe Sullivan
    Joe Sullivan 17 July, 2010, 15:15

    What we have here is an example of a Union concentrating their efforts by getting union members and their supporters to function as a mob to attack a political campaign. They do this because they believe that if the targeted politician is not elected those individuals who are will be influenced to pass legislation that will benefit and strengthen their position. In this case it is the nurses’ union, but realistically it could be any strong union exerting pressure on candidates whose position can become a boon for the union. Such actions are a bane for the taxpayers in that they will pay the bill for union benefits. The most glaring abuse is that special benefits become an expense to the state and its taxpayers. Over the years we have been overburdened by such unsustainable giveaways, and the nation is suffering for it now.

    Reply this comment
  5. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 19 July, 2010, 09:34

    Because firefighters and other public servants band together to fight for their rights, you brand them “thugs.”

    It’s OK when the Tea Baggers band together. It’s fine and dandy when the large corporations spend tens of millions to influence politicians and policies.

    But when workers organize it’s a terrible thing.

    Billions in tax breaks for the oil industry and other large corporations are OK. But pay and benefits for public employees are “giveaways.”

    Your hypocrisy is amazing.

    Reply this comment
  6. Paul Huges
    Paul Huges 16 September, 2010, 15:55

    I’ve heard these comments before from people who fear retaliation. There is a very simple way to address the issue; require unions to vote in a secret ballot as to how they want their union dues spent politically, and that the unions mustthen spend the money in that way. I’m sure you’d find that most unions will have a membership that is refelctive of political break out of the general public.

    If unions are afraid of a secret ballot that define how the “members” money is spent, then you have an organization that should cease to exist.

    Reply this comment

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