Nurses lobby for single-payer system, new workplace regs

A group of the country's biggest nursing unions have convened in Washington to lobby for a single-payer health system and fight for federal workplace regulations. The move represents not only activism, but a rare show of unity that bodes ill for those who would oppose them.

The groups--including the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, the United American Nurses and the Service Employees International Union Nurse Alliance--are pushing hard to see the Employee Free Choice Act move through Congress. The bill includes language forbidding mandatory overtime and sets minimum staffing ratios.

In an indication of how dedicated the groups are to getting the job done, the SEIU and CNA/NNOC are working together on this, despite having had an intense rivalry before. Meanwhile, two other groups doing the protecting--the United American Nurses and Massachusetts Nurses Association--have agreed to merge. These agreements are an indication that nursing unions as a whole is coalescing, in a way.

The groups do have some support. For example, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has announced plans to file a bill addressing many of the unions' desires, including, not only nurse-to-patient ratios and workplace limits, but also funding for nurse education and mentoring for new nurses.

To learn more about the nurses' activity:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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