WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nurses from Washington to California will gather on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning to warn that a case targeting worker and union rights poses a significant threat to public health, safety and quality of life, warned National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses.
What: Nurses join in protest at Supreme Court
When: Monday, January 11, 9 a.m.
Where: U.S. Supreme Court, steps, 1st and Maryland Ave., Washington, DC
Friedrichs v. CTA involves a challenge supported by anti-union groups to the right of public unions to require all employees who receive the benefits of representation, including higher wages, safer working conditions and better benefits, to pay their fair share of the cost of representation.
Established law already permits employees who object to a union's political expenditures to withhold payment for certain union political activity. But the Friedrichs 'challenge goes far beyond the settled law of permitting union members to opt out of dues for politics, to the heart of everything the union does in collective bargaining.
"For nurses, who depend on the protection of their union to be able to advocate, without fear of employer retaliation, for their patients at a time when healthcare corporations are placing profits over patient safety, the threat is particularly dire," NNU co-president Jean Ross, RN.
"As nurses our ability to have a collective voice for our patients is critical. Without the support of our union, nurses have little protection to speak out and challenge unsafe staffing or other eroding patient care conditions that happen all too often in our hospitals," said Chicago RN Martese Chism.
"Through our union, every day we advocate for patient safety, we advocate in the community for funding of our community hospitals," said San Diego RN Rebecca Wells. "The Justices have a decision to make here as to whether they are on the side of nurses and patients or the corporate interests that are funding Friedrichs."
The challenge to public unions parallels the corporate attack on private sector unions, in so-called "right to work" states. Statistics show a dangerous erosion of public health standards in "right to work" states, Chism noted.
In states that allow for "the scheme Friedrichs is attempting to impose on all public sector nurses, infant mortality rates are 17.7 percent higher and life expectancy is lower," said Martese Chism. "For nurses, these appalling numbers are unacceptable."
In 20 of 24 measures affecting public health, "right to work" states rank lower on average in poverty rates for children, infant morality, cardiovascular deaths, access to primary care physicians and mental health services, infectious disease control, occupational fatalities, and other factors compiled by America's Health Rankings.
Those same "right to work" states have seen significant declines in stagnant wages for most workers, declining relative living standards, and a massive gap in health and income inequality.
SOURCE National Nurses United