Friday, June 11, 2010

Striking a Pose?

There was a nurse's strike at Twin Cities Minnesota hospitals yesterday. Some twelve thousand nurses from 14 area hospitals walked off their jobs for a planned 24 hour strike. The issue, as I understand it, is patient load. Nurses have to care for too many patients at once and this means less quality care for all patients when nurses are spread too thin, trying to take care of too many at the same time.

The nurses claimed they were striking because they care about their patients, and about what is best for them.

The strike had been planned for some time, hospitals had plenty of time to recruit enough temporary nurses to meet their needs for this one day. And thankfully they did find plenty of nurses from all over the state (and other surrounding areas) to work in local hospitals yesterday.

I guess I'm sort of conflicted about labor unions and strikes and all of that. I see some benefit to having labor unions - for some professions - but ultimately I find myself glad not to be part of one. (I realize that this is also not the politically correct position to take, but really, political correctness is so overrated.)

The strike received extensive coverage on the evening news last night. Several striking nurses were interviewed, all of them saying that they were taking this action solely out of concern for their patients. Still, when the video footage showed the temporary nurses reporting for their one day of work, all of the striking nurses were standing at the buses shouting at them, "Go home, scabs! Shame on you!"

Now I get that the impact of the nurses who walked out was decreased because an adequate number of replacement workers were hired that day to do their work. I understand the desire of the striking nurses to show the hospitals and everyone else how important their work is and how overworked they are. I get all that. But we aren't talking about striking paper manufacturers or striking mechanics here. We are talking about those who care for human beings in frail or even life-threatening condition. So as I watched the news coverage last night I couldn't help but wonder why, if the nurse's primary concern is really the welfare of patients, why they wouldn't be supporting the replacement nurses who were willing to come and care for "their" patients while they were picketing. Someone had to come and care for them. Why weren't they shouting, "Thank God for you!"?

I'm sure the hospital patients were.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An American Tragedy

... from the mailbag at work today.