I hold a special place in my heart for the 80,000 members of the Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare. From my earliest days at SEIU working to organize healthcare workers in California, I quickly learned what kind of person chooses to become a nurse. Nurses are strong and passionate; their strength and passion extends well beyond the bedside to their communities and to our country as a whole.
The front-line energy and creativity nurses show every day, and their steadfast commitment to quality care has always amazed me. Over the years, I’ve seen our nurse members go above and beyond the regular call of duty to not only advocate for their patients and profession, but to get directly involved in a wide range of important causes.
Many of the challenges our nation is facing in healthcare today were first called out by nurses: the lack of comprehensive healthcare for new immigrants, the need to create safer workplaces for all healthcare workers and their patients, the explosion of demand for better long term care options, the system readiness of our public health system, the link between a living wage of $15 an hour and living a longer life.
I’ve seen our nurses responding to natural disasters in places such as New Orleans, Haiti and the Philippines; working tirelessly to win passage of history-making laws such as the Affordable Care Act; standing with working women and men in the Fight for $15 and union rights; and spreading out across Iowa, Nevada, Florida and other states to help Hillary Clinton win the Democratic presidential nomination.
Just this week, SEIU nurses are on the streets calling for better pay and benefits in Iowa City, Iowa, jamming the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., in support of safe staffing laws, and gathering in Sacramento, Calif., to plot their legislative goals for the coming year.
As this National Nurses Week comes to a close, let us reflect on the contributions of SEIU’s 80,000 nurse members and nurses everywhere. Every day, nurses begin by healing patients, and in that process they help to heal our communities and our country.