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Michael Moore: Temple U. Teaches Strikebreaking, Patient Endangerment

DailyKOS.com, 4/13/10

by National Nurses Movement

Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:37:24 AM PST

The 1500 registered nurses and healthcare professionals whose strike at Temple University we told you about recently have been winning support around the country as their effort become a cause celebre in the nursing and labor worlds.

The key issue is profound: should Temple or any hospital be able to gag its nurses and stifle their patient advocacy?  If healthcare corporations have the ability to silence RNs, every patient will pay the price.

Michael Moore today joined the chorus of support for nurses, asking Temple what they are really teaching with their behavior in this strike.  
More below...

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Michael Moore released the following statement, that was read  at a rally held yesterday near the picket line at Broad and Ontario in front of the hospital.

"I am proud to support the striking nurses and staff at Temple University Hospital. It is an embarrassment that an otherwise fine institution of higher learning would treat its own nurses and other health professionals with such contempt.

"Exactly what lesson is Temple teaching to its students when they attack the nurses at their own hospital? That we should beat up on the very people who have dedicated their lives to helping us when we get sick? President Hart, like the rest of us, you, too, will someday probably have to stay in a hospital. When you look up at that person taking care of you, will you hope that that nurse has been well-treated, well-paid, well-trained? Or will you say to yourself, ‘I sure hope that nurse who's placing that IV in me isn't paid more than minimum wage! I sure hope she's struggling to pay for her own health care! And I sure hope this hospital is making life as miserable as they can for this nurse!’

"I don't think you'll be saying that, President Hart. I think you'll want the very best care from a staff who've been treated like human beings. I think that's what you'll want. So why not give that to the patients inside Temple University Hospital right now?

"Stop trying to bust this nurses’ and health professionals’ union! Teach your students how to behave toward those who work hard for a living. End this nonsense now before the entire country turns its focus on you and your behavior. You don't want that, do you? Seriously do I have to come to Philly? Donovan McNabb leaves, but Michael Moore shows up? No one wants that! Do the right thing. Negotiate in good faith and give the nurses and staff the contract they deserve."

Moore's comments were directed at Ann Weaver Hart, Temple’s CEO, who earns more than $602,000 annually but who is, according to the nurses, key architect of the plan to bust their union and avoid giving nurses the freedom to advocate for their patients and the fair benefits and compensation they deserve.  The nurses have been working without a contract since last September while Hart’s current contract assures her of not only one of the highest salaries in the nation for university presidents but also grants her a car, a house and $75,000 in deferred compensation.  Hart faced a spirited protest outside her luxury condo last week.

Meanwhile...the  Philadelphia Inquirer uncovered the massive costs Temple is sinking into this strike:

On its Web site, Health Source Global Staffing, a California company, put out a bid for help at Temple University Hospital, where 1,500 nurses and allied health professionals have been on strike since March 31.

"We are recruiting for an upcoming strike in Philadelphia at a large teaching hospital," the Web site said. "We need over 830 nurses, techs and other staff to take care of patients. We are asking for your help."

A flashing banner on the home page promises up to $10,000 a week for nurses.

At the rate Temple is spending, it could fund four years of raises, at 3 percent per year, by the middle of next week, if the strike persists, said Bill Cruice, executive director of the union, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Staffing. The tab for those raises would be $9 million, he claimed.

Karen Higgins, RN, the Massachusetts-based co-President of National Nurses United took up the cause, arguing to Truthout that any fight on behalf of patients is one all nurses should take up.  

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee is sponsoring a Philadelphia ad campaign to let the community know about the dangers of gagging nurses--and the bitter irony of doing so in Philadelphia, the Constitution city.

Please show solidarity with these brave nurses, taking a stand for patient care in the midst of a tough recession.  Three ways you can help:

  1. Send Temple an email from www.TempleWatch.org
  1. Call Temple President Ann Weaver Hart and tell her nurses CANNOT be silenced: 215-204-7405
  1. Donate to Support the Temple Nurses, or follow them on Facebook/Twitter: http://templewatch.org/

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