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Nurses From Four Continents Urge Global Finance Tax; “We Are Running Out of Time”

Press Release, 10/31/11

Media Advisory    
November 3, 2011

From D.C., to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and at G-20 Summit in France, Nurses Tell Obama and Others Critical Revenue Measures Needed 

Capping many months of campaigning across the U.S., nurses from National Nurses United (NNU) – the largest union of registered nurses in the country – brought their urgent message for a financial transaction tax (FTT) to Washington, D.C., today, rallying in front of the White House and Department of Treasury. It was the second time since June that NNU brought its demands to the nation’s capital.
 
“A real finance tax would generate $350 billion a year in the U.S. alone and bring relief to families out of homes, friends out of work, patients out of care, communities running out of time,” said Karen Higgins, RN and co-president, NNU.

Nurses call for Financial Transaction Tax
Nurses march in Washington DC demanding a Financial Transaction Tax

“The tax starts a revenue flow back to the 99 percent.  To oppose it, or even delay it, is to court disaster,” Higgins told the 2,000 supporters, including hundreds of nurses from across the U.S., as well as the AFL-CIO, more than a dozen international unions, Occupy Wall Street activists from New York and Washington, and consumer and environmental groups.
 
Representatives from labor, Occupy Wall Street, Oxfam and other organizations spoke, including  renowned consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who effusively praised NNU, “they’re going to change the country” and said he had told the Voice of America when interviewed, “this is the voice of America,” pointing to the crowd.
 
Marchers paused to see a parade of three “bankers” carrying mock golden parachutes and a contingent of nurses from Massachusetts spelling a message with individual letters: “HEAL AMERICA, TAX TIMMY’S FRIENDS,” a reference to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has lobbied here and abroad to block a finance tax.  
 
At the G-20 Summit in Cannes, France, where on Tuesday nurses from four continents joined 100,000 marchers protesting G-20 austerity measures, NNU furthered its calls for a global finance tax.  “I’m incredibly proud of the nurses internationally for their global advocacy for their patients and society,” said Rose Ann DeMoro, NNU executive director, at a press conference in Cannes this morning.  “The nurses don’t ever give up on people and we won’t give up on this cause.”  

A skit at the Cannes conference had nurses “injecting an FTT” to resuscitate an ailing global economy.  Sheila Dickson, president of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization, explained, “In Ireland, reckless behavior by reckless financiers is hurting our people.”

“We have to put an end to sterile, non-productive, casino-style trading and cyberspace gambling with our economy,”  said British actor and Oxfam Global Ambassador Bill Nighy, who  attended the Cannes press conference.

Also present was Elise Buckle, WWF International Policy Advisor.  “Thank you to the trade unions and to the nurses for this very powerful message….The financial transaction tax is a question of survival for the world’s poorest people,” Buckle said.  

“Taxes are not a punishment.  We collect them to support public services,” said Peter Waldorff, General  Secretary of Public Services International, an organization of 20 million public sector union employees worldwide.  “If you care about the imbalances between the rich and poor, you should support the financial transaction tax.”

In Los Angeles, hundreds of nurses were joined by Occupy LA, marching through the financial district.   And in San Francisco, Occupy SF, labor unions and community groups joined NNU affiliate California Nurses Association in rallies at bank offices and in front of the Federal Reserve.  

In Washington, D.C., this afternoon, NNU leaders Karen Higgins and Sandra Falwell delivered a petition with 322,000 signatures to the Senate Finance Committee.  The petition calls for a tax on financial speculation as a way to raise revenue critical to rescuing communities across the country.

Higgins, Falwell and other RNs from NNU are seeing a broad and profound demise in the health of the U.S. population as a result of growing economic inequality and hardship.  “We are running out of time,” commented Higgins.

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