National Nurses United, the largest organization of nurses in the US and in Illinois late Monday condemned an executive order by new Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner that is intended to dismantle public employee unions that nurses warn could cause serious harm to public health and safety.
“Under the façade of protecting employee free speech, the governor’s real goal is to decimate public employee unions, eliminate their ability to challenge his corporate agenda, and seriously erode the ability of public workers to speak out when public protections are at risk,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.
“It is no coincidence that this is one of the first acts of Gov. Rauner, a down payment to the most far right segments of American policies, such as the Koch Brothers, Wall Street and other billionaire interests who helped elect him. But it is an enormous disservice to all Illinois residents and could cause an avalanche of harm,” DeMoro said.” style=”margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; cursor: pointer;”>
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“Nurses, emergency responders, child welfare advocates, and public servants who enforce public oversight and regulatory protections are among the many groups of workers threatened by the order,” said Martese Chism, a Chicago registered nurse and board member for National Nurses Organizing Committee-Illinois, an NNU affiliate.
“Without the protection of their union, nurses in public hospitals and clinics would be restricted from speaking out about unsafe hospital and clinic conditions, public servants who enforce public oversight and regulatory protections would be hanstrung in their ability to confront corporate attacks on safety standards, child welfare advocates would have less protection from retaliation for putting the interests of children first,” said Chism.
Health standards are particularly at risk, notes NNU, citing national data on so-called “right to work” measures, like the measure proposed by Gov. Rauner.
In, 20 of 24 key measures affecting public health and safety “right to work” states, rank lower on average in poverty rates children, infant morality, cardiovascular deaths, access to primary care physicians and mental health services, infectious disease control, occupational fatalities, and many other factors compiled by America’s Health Rankings.
“Nurses will never be silent in the face of attacks on their rights to advocate for public health and safety, or their right to form unions and act collectively for their own livelihood and working conditions,” said DeMoro. “NNU and nurses know how to fight, and we know how to win.”