National Nurses Make History - Sept 1, 2011
For Immediate Release
September 1, 2011
RNs sponsor soup kitchens, food pantries, speak outs on the need for jobs, healthcare, education, housing – and outline the RN plan on how to pay for it.
(Photo Right: NNU Tax Wall Street Message in Times Square)
From the Atlantic to the Pacific, an estimated 10,000 nurses and community participants joined actions in 21 states today demanding immediate attention to the economic crisis to heal America.
They called on Senators and Congress members in their local district offices to pledge to "support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street."
Events from soup kitchens to feeding the hungry, to community speak outs, to street theater took place from urban centers including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Orlando, to smaller towns, such as Corpus Christi, TX, Marquette, MI, and Dayton, OH. National Nurses United, the largest U.S. union of nurses with 170,000 members, sponsored the actions.
In Richmond, VA, 120 RNs and allies descended on the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and were greeted by a squadron of police. The RNs responded with singing and a large picket line. Cantor's office invited a delegation to meet with his chief of staff. Fifteen constituents lead by NNU nurses held the meeting.. Cantor's staff heard moving testimony and said the congressman would "respond." The local CBS and NBC stations filmed outside, as they were not allowed in. A "Lady Liberty" character greeted the delegation on Cantor's office lawn as it exited the meeting, and heard stories of the pain caused on Main Street by Wall Street.
"America's nurses every day see broad declines in health and living standards that are a direct result of patients and families struggling with lack of jobs, un-payable medical bills, hunger and homelessness. We know where to find the resources to bring them hope and real solutions," said NNU Co-president Karen Higgins, RN, outside Cantor's office.
Ringing a bell and shouting "Oye Oye," a town crier dressed in colonial attire drew a crowd of nearly 200 nurses, activists and passersby as he decried the reckless actions of Wall Street and its impact on the working people of Boston's Main Street in front of the office of Senator Scott Brown.
Watch and share a video of the Boston town crier here.
In Pueblo, CO, a pledge delivered to Senator Udall asked "which side is the senator on: Wall Street or Main Street?" Nurses also criticized Sen. Michael Bennett of Colorado, a Democrat, for collected $2,409,806 in campaign contributions from Wall Street interests while his state languishes in the top 10 in foreclosures, has 184,689 children in poverty, 116,941 people dependent on food stamps, and 13,390 homeless.
One hundred people attempted to enter Senator Toomey's office near Philadelphia but were blocked by security guards. At Rep. Peter King's Long Island, New York office, 50 nurses and supporters entered his office to serve up the pledge but were kept out.
Chicago's nurses sang the "Economic Blues" as hundreds of nurses and others gathered in support of the pledge.
Watch and share this NNU video of Chicago RNs battling the "Economic Blues"
The staff of Senator Rubio in Orlando, FL is accompanying nurses to feed local homeless.
In downtown San Francisco a soup kitchen was assembled to feed the hungry and drew more than 500.
And outside the office of Rep. Darryl Issa, north of San Diego, a crowd of 300 nurses, including members of other unions and area residents, expressed outrage at allegations of self dealing by the congressman. An RN delegation entered his office and delivered the pledge. Outside, community members shared stories of enduring economic hardships. See picture below.
San Diego, CA RNs with NNU Executive Director RoseAnnDeMoro in white above center.
California Nurses visited home offices of Republicans and Democrats throughout the day with a common message – American families are hurting, and they need jobs, healthcare, housing, quality education, nutrition, and a secure retirement.
In addition, the RNs are releasing data where available contrasting contributions the legislators have received from Wall Street with the plummeting economic conditions in their districts that has left substantial numbers of their constituents in crisis.
Rep. Paul Ryan, for example, a Wisconsin Republican, has accepted $2,417,672 in campaign contributions from Wall Street financial institutions the past 12 years, as a champion for Wall Street interests. But the payoff has been small for his district where 69,241 people are uninsured, 22,884 are dependent on food stamps, and 20,394 children and 7,939 seniors live in poverty.
NNU will also be calling for the establishment of Main Street commissions to push real solutions for Main Street communities, such as the Wall Street financial tax, in comparison to what NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro calls "the Wall Street 'super committee' set up in the recent debt ceiling deal whose main goal seems to be more cuts in programs that help people to funnel more resources to Wall Street and foreign banks and investors."
A tax on Wall Street trading of stocks, derivatives, currencies, credit default swaps, and futures – which many other nations have now adopted – could raise hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for programs that "are desperately needed to reduce the pain and suffering felt by so many who feel abandoned across this nation," says NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN.
"It's time for Wall Street financiers, who created this crisis and continue to hold much of the nation's wealth, to start contributing to rebuild this country, and for the American people to reclaim our future," says DeMoro.
The $2.4 trillion in government bailouts to financial and other institutions already spent, noted DeMoro, alone would have funded 63 million jobs at the national median level of about $39,000 a year. "Instead we have over 25 million people who are unemployed or underemployed, and in the past decade U.S. based corporations added 2.4 million jobs in foreign countries while divesting in America, cutting 2.9 million jobs in the U.S."
"We need to reallocate the money back to our communities, and our actions on September 1 are going to raise the demand to a new level to heal our nation," said NNU Co-president Jean Ross.