LaborTalk for June 6, 2011

Nurses' Union, at Washington Rally,
Proposes a 'Main Street Contract'

By Harry Kelber

The National Nurses United (NNU), which represents 170,000 RNs, will convene a conference on Monday, June 6 in Washington, D.C., and rally the next day outside the White House, Chamber of Commerce and Congress, calling for a re-charting of national priorities with a "Main Street Contract for the American People."

The NNU, which is probably the fastest growing union in the country, will bring more than 800 RNs from 31 states to Washington this week to propose a new agenda to heal the nation. They will be joined by labor and community allies, with up to 1,000 expected at the rallies.

The NNU is organizing the movement for Registered Nurse power to transform the market-driven health care industry in the United States into a health care system that is driven by patient needs.

The nurses have put forward an agenda to stop economic decline and protect American families. The "Main Street Contract for the American People" calls for jobs at living wages, guaranteed health care for all, equal access to quality education, good housing, protection from hunger, a secure retirement for everyone, a clean and safe environment, and a fair and just tax system, in which Wall Street and those with the most wealth pay their fair share.

Nurses Will Seek National Support for Agenda

On Monday, there will be a two-hour conference that will discuss a people's response to the "Assault on Our Lives, Our Patients and Our Communities."

Tuesday's agenda will include speeches by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Senators Bernie Sanders (Ind. Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (Dem.-Cal.). Participants at the rally are scheduled to picket the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The NNU has negotiated the best Registered Nurse (RN) collective bargaining contracts in the nation. It played a key role in the passage of California's RN Safe Staffing Law — the first of its kind nationwide.

With President Trumka a featured speaker at the Tuesday rally, there is an excellent chance that the AFL-CIO will endorse the Main Street Contract at the next meeting of its Executive Council.

* * * * *

There is every reason why the AFL-CIO's 56 international union affiliates should endorse the Main Street Contract. Its comprehensive features contain just about every demand, which if fulfilled, would mean a better life for working families. It should be embraced, as well, by the membership of Change to Win.

The Main Street Contract enables labor and its allies to go on the offensive to achieve positive change instead of limiting its struggles, even when successful, to defensive actions.

This can be labor's greatest opportunity in decades — the biggest mobilization of working people ever. So let's go for it!

LaborTalk will be posted here on June 10, 2011 and on our two web sites and on

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