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Nurses rally to protest budget plan, emergency financial manager law

Lansing State Journal, 3/31/11

By Greg DeRuiter
Lansing State Journal
March 31, 2011

A flurry of red-and-white signs with the words "Some cuts never heal" flapped furiously in front of the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

The signs were accompanied by more than 200 nurses, nursing students and local and state officials who criticized Gov. Rick Snyder's budget proposals and legislation that gives emergency financial managers the authority to cancel union contracts. Emergency financial managers can be appointed by the governor for school districts or other municipal governments.

The effort was part of the Michigan Nurses Association's annual political action day.

"If (Snyder) breaks the nurses unions, that's endangering patients," said Cindy Inman of Lansing, a nurse currently in search of work.

Inman and others at the rally said unions help keep patient-to-nurse ratio and shift sizes manageable. Otherwise, overworked nurses can be harmful to patients, they said.

"Nurses first and foremost are patient advocates," said Felicia Kieme, an operating room nurse at the University of Michigan Hospital and a Michigan Nurses Association board member.

"We're very caring people as nurses, but that doesn't forgo the fact that we have a voice."

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero was among the officials who addressed the crowd from the Capitol steps.

"I want to let you know we're with you all the way," Bernero said. "This is about standing up for working people. This is about the American dream. ... What kind of good is an American dream if you don't have your health?"

Wednesday's rally was held while legislators were on break, but Janine Robinson said she hopes the rally still made an impression.

"I'm disappointed they were on break, but (the rally) shows nurses' willingness to come here during this time and make our voices heard," said Robinson, an operation room nurse at the University of Michigan hospital.

"I hope that at least it causes a pause for legislatures to realize the effect of these proposals."

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