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In the aftermath of the devastation from Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, the Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), a project of National Nurses United (NNU), has put out a call for volunteers and donations through its vast network of direct-care nurses both nationally and internationally.

In the first 24 hours more than 500 RNs have stepped up to volunteer. The nurses are also seeking public support with financial donations to help their relief effort.

Click to donate now.

Click to volunteer now.

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In the face of heavy-handed opposition by the $1.2 billion District of Columbia hospital industry, a broad cross section of DC registered nurses, patients, and other community leaders today made a compelling case for safer care in DC hospitals.

More than 150 Washington DC nurses, backed by many others, packed a hearing today of the DC Council Health Committee to demand the Council act to improve public safety and protect vulnerable hospital patients by enacting the Patient Protection Act.

The bill would set specific limits on the number of patients RNs can care for (nurse-to-patient ratios), with additional staffing required based on individual need, similar to limits on class sizes or minimum standards for clean air and water.

Indeed, as a society, we regularly demand minimum standards in areas of public safety. For example, Veda Shook, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (Communication Workers of America) testified that “there can be no less than 1 flight attendant for every 50 passenger seats on a plane.”

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Let’s try to remember a lesson we all should have learned as kids. Just because you were picked on by the neighborhood bully is no excuse to go home and kick the dog or punch your little brother.

Maybe some inside the Beltway need a refresher course. Just because a handful on the right have shut down government and threatened default on the debt that’s no excuse to embrace proposals to slash Medicare and Social Security.

But that is exactly what is on the agenda, the “compromise” reward for those who engineered the lunacy of the last two weeks with the attempt to reverse the results of last November’s election by refusing to fund government services or pay the debt unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded or repealed.

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In a week in which we honored the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington, this year’s Labor Day is a good time to reflect on the broader vision of what it means to be a union member and a working class American.

The hundreds of thousands who traveled many miles to Washington half a century ago, marched and rallied for racial justice, freedom, and equality.

But as many have noted, economic justice and jobs were also a foremost subtext to that day, as represented by many union participants and, of course, Dr. King himself who five years later would literally give his life speaking out for workers.

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With the magnificent expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge as backdrop and pathway,  rallied on Thursday to call an end to the Keystone XL Pipeline project,  a ghastly effort to transport poisonous tar sands 1,700 miles from Canada to Texas, exposing hundreds of communities en route to calamitous spills, ruined water systems and deleterious health effects.  

Stop Austerity Stop KeystoneXL

Nurses also called for an end to the politics of austerity, one that puts the false choices – jobs through environmental degradation – before us.  

“Nothing related to Keystone XL is good for our families, our communities, or our planet,” announced Debra Burger, RN and NNU co-president from the rally stage.  “From extraction to transport to refining, tar sands oil will exacerbate our current health emergency….  This is a clear and present danger to public health.”

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Nurses and environmental activists from across the U.S. are joining hands this week to step up the message that there is still time to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline before it stops all of us.

Join us for a march across the Golden Bate Bridge in San Francisco Thursday, June 20, beginning with a noon rally at Battery East, near the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion at Fort Point adjacent to the Bridge.  

Poll

Do you oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline?

90%36 votes
10%4 votes

| 40 votes | Vote | Results

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The U.S. Treasury was today renamed “A Citigroup Subsidiary, Jack Lew, Inc. CEO,” as Robin Hood and a merry band of 2,000 hoisted a banner with the Treasury building as backdrop on the corner of 15th St. NW in Washington, D.C.

“Who does Secretary Lew work for?” asked Jennifer Flynn of Health GAP, one of the founding organizations of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign.  

“The people,” answered all. RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, another founding RHT organization, called out, “I see the Treasury; we all see Hypocrisy!” to which she heard a loud and resounding echo from the spirited protesters spilling into the intersection, a stone’s throw from the White House.  

“We are going to be everywhere!” said DeMoro.

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This is a huge day,” Rep. Keith Ellison announced Wednesday at a press conference within view of the Capitol, referring to legislation he  reintroduced for a Wall Street Tax with huge purpose.

Take, for example, this passage from the bill’s “Findings.”
“The global crisis cost Americans $19 trillion in lost wealth.... American citizens provided the money to stabilize the financial sector…. The global financial crisis, along with wars, unabated and unaddressed climate change, unsustainable tax cuts, and a continuing unemployment crisis, if unaddressed, will deprive a generation of a meaningful role in the larger economy.”
-- Inclusive Prosperity Act, H.R. 1579, Sec. 2.

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They lined the hallways, crowded the stairwells and eventually packed the Hearing Room of the District of Columbia Council Monday. Room 412 may never have seen such a spirited gathering – 200 RNs – and some additional supporters, with a press section full up.   Quality healthcare reaches into all our lives.  

The way to get there for Washington DC patients, explained Rajini Raj, RN, is to pass and implement the Patient Protection Act, a new measure introduced by DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson with the support of 10 of 13 DC Council members.

The bill is already endorsed by National Nurses United Catholics United, DC Jobs with Justice, the Government Accountability Project, Housing Works, the Washington Teachers’ Union and many others.  The outpouring of support for this bill is pervasive and powerful.

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“We have to have an economy – a real economy. What do we have now? We want our jobs back. We want our pensions. We want our healthcare. We want to raise standards for everyone in America.  We want a civil society….  Where’s our country?”

These questions, posed by National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro set the stage last night as TV and radio host Tavis Smiley convened a group of eight individuals for a landmark national broadcast promoting his goal of a “Vision for a New America: A Future Without Poverty,” .  

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With poverty rates spinning perilously out of control in the U.S., it’s time to send an unmistakable message to Congress and the White House as they prepare to resume the ongoing obsession with the deficit:

End the silence on poverty, don’t make poverty worse through cuts to Social Security or Medicare, and address a principle cause of poverty with a permanent fix to our dysfunctional healthcare system.

That's one prescription recommended by RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of America's largest organization of nurses, National Nurses United.

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The worldwide campaign to enact Robin Hood taxes on financial speculation received a real boost in a major meeting of global union activists this week -- with the help of U.S. nurses whose Robin Hood hats and messaging is becoming a familiar site at home.

Delegates representing 329 unions from 123 countries rallied today in the streets of Durban, South Africa for the Robin Hood Tax while also speaking out against austerity measures pushed by the same finance sectors that are the target of the tax.

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NNU Co-Presidents Jean Ross, RN, and Deborah Burger, RN at a massive rally today in Durban, South Africa

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The union leaders, representing 20 million workers, were in Durban attending the 29th World Congress of the Public Services International (PSI).

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