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Mid-May Updates

May 17, 2011

Nurses save lives

Note: Don’t miss Debbie Tannenbaum’s comment below which contains a fabulous satirical musical video on the Koch Brothers.

Nurses at Washington Hospital Center Have a Contract!

Thanks to the hard work of the Nation Nurses United (NNU), and bargaining in good faith by the Administration, the 1,650 RN’s at Washington Hospital Center have a new contract. As a seemingly regular patient at our capital’s largest hospital, I feel reassured that I will receive the best possible care for any future visits – not that I’m in any hurry! Here are the key features:

  • A new approach to staffing that will increase the number of nurses at bedside. Nurses raised patient safety as a priority issue during bargaining sessions with management.
  • A new Professional Practice Committee to solve issues pertaining to patient care and staffing. Hospital managers are required to meet regularly with the nurse committee and to respond to proposals.
  •  Nurses will continue to get extra pay for working evening, night, and weekend shifts for the next 30 months.
  • Most nurses’ hourly base rate wages between 8.5% and 9.0% over three and a half years.
  • The agreement also includes a return to work for eight nurses fired during the back-to-back snow storms in February 2010.  Another nurse whose firing the union claimed was unjust was also returned to work as part of the agreement.  Previously, the union won back the jobs of the ten other nurses who were fired following the snow storm.

The principle downside for the nurses was an agreement that allows the Hospital Centerto terminate differential pay for the night and weekend shifts after 30 months. Union negotiators, though not happy with arrangement, saw it as a necessary compromise to get the seal the deal. Some 93% of the nurses voted to accept the contract.

So, it’s mostly good news and patients are big winners. Finally congratulations to the nurses who put their jobs on the line by conducting a one-day strike this past March and to the NNU negotiators and leaders for their achievement. In an era when unions across the nation are under attack, this is a big win!

Don’t you dare — tread on my Medicare!

The staff of Asclepius: Don't Dare Tread on My Medicare

Whether you’re 67 (68 on May 22) or 35, listen up! You will need Medicare. When you get to be about 60, things start to happen. It might be prostate cancer; it might be coronary heart disease; it might be diverticulitis (things get caught in your intestines) — I’m a survivor of all three. Thank God for Medicare. And that goes for Social Security too, because when you start to you reach your mid-sixties you may not be able to or may not want to put in so many hours. Let’s not call these things “entitlements.” Entitled sounds like what parents call a spoiled child. No these are basic rights, the safety net for aging that any decent civilized country provides for its citizens.  And guess what we pay for this stuff — check out your pay stub or 1040.

These vital programs are under attack; it’s part of the Republican/Tea Party agenda to mow down all things that benefit the great majority of Americans. I am proposing that we adopt the medical symbol (properly a single snake — the staff of Asclepius) with the motto: Don’t You Dare Tread on my Medicare!

For some good reads on the GOP plans to privatize and shrivel Medicare see the following:


Who was Abraham Clark anyway? Special for alumni of Abraham Clark High School

Abraham Clark, founder of our nation, grew up in Roselle.

My high school class will be celebrating its 50th reunion this September. Located in Roselle, NJ, the school was named after Abraham Clark (1726-1794).[1] Our house inRoselle was right around the corner from the Abraham Clark memorial home (photo below).

Clark had an interesting bio; he grew up on his father’s farm in what is now Roselle(see photos); he was trained as a surveyor, and taught himself law and held many local offices. He used his legal skills to defend poor farmers and others who couldn’t afford a lawyer. As distinguished from other colonialNew Jerseyleaders,Clarkwas an early supporter of the revolution against British rule and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence – at great peril to his safety and well being.

Our social studies teachers including the stately white-haired, Orian Rice taught us about the separation of powers. The founders including Clark established a constitutional system of checks and balances in order to prevent the return of tyranny — three branches of government, so that no one person or branch could grow oppressively powerful. The Constitution also divides powers between federal and state governments (e.g. Federal=interstate commerce, national defense; State=local commerce, land use).

In addition, Our Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees personal freedoms of religion and speech, the right to assemble freely, to petition government, freedom against unwarranted seizure of persons and the right of citizens to vote.  Unfortunately, the founders didn’t extend these rights to all. It took subsequent amendments and laws to abolish slavery and to provide universal voting rights to those disenfranchised until the 20th century (African-Americans and women).

All of these freedoms are essential to the checks and balances needed to ensure a vibrant, resilient democracy. The 5th amendment to the Constitution also protects private property: “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

While conservatives (including members of the Tea Party) continually rail about the power of big government; they seem to have little trouble with the growing power of big multi-national corporations. It was not big government that caused the financial crash of 2008 — it was principally the irresponsible, speculative practices of the nation’s biggest financial banks. And it was not the government that caused the BP disaster on the Gulf, or the Massey mine disaster that killed 29 workers. If anything the blame goes to the lack of effective government regulation in each of these cases.

What would Abraham Clark and his colleagues said if they had known the power of corporations to affect our lives? Would they have insisted on further checks and balances to prevent corporate dominance?

What would Delegate Clark have said to a conservative dominated Supreme Court which allows corporate interests to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaigns often without disclosure?

How would our founders feel about trade agreements that promote the export of manufacturing and jobs to low wage third world countries whose governments have little regard for human conditions or the environment?

Let us know your thoughts!

Abraham Clark memorial House at the corner of Chestnut and Ninth. A block away from the original which burned down in the early 20th century.

Mr. Rice, a wonderful person to our delight gave the same tests year after year.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Debbie Tenenbaum permalink
    May 20, 2011 5:20 pm

    I got your Facebook link from another ACHS alumna because of your Abraham Clark article, which I enjoyed. But I was really delighted to see your postings about National Nurses United and their success at Washington Hospital. I’m a nurse in Berkeley, CA, and have been a proud and active member of the California Nurses Association, which was one of the founders of NNU about a year and a half ago. It’s nice to know that there are other ex-Rosellians who care about what’s happening to this country. Keep up the good work! Here’s a fun link that NNU posted today:
    Koch Bros – It’s the evil thing.

    “Tired of our democracy getting Koch-Blocked? See this kick-ass video. Then join the campaign to push Koch money out and bring democracy back in.”
    Debbie Tenenbaum, ACHS class of 1963

    • Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. permalink*
      May 20, 2011 7:35 pm

      Thanks Debbie, this is great. Hank

  2. Timmy Kempson permalink
    May 18, 2011 12:41 pm

    Thanks for the article Hank. The development of the two party system and its vulnerability to the interests of the wealthy was unforeseen and must needs be dealt with now.

  3. Timmy Kempson permalink
    May 18, 2011 12:34 pm

    Were it not for Barbara Nitche I never would have gotten through my “Constitution Speech” in Mr. Rice’s class. He would call me by my older brothers’ names before he got to Tim.

  4. May 18, 2011 10:21 am

    Henry, I like your flag idea very much. What I don’t understand about these Republicans with an agenda is this–do these people not have parents they love and care about? Did they hatch from some evil alien pod and thus have no older loved ones? Do they really think they’ll NEVER grow old? I just don’t get it.

  5. Steve Cole permalink
    May 18, 2011 8:05 am

    When asked if he ever tackled Red Grange, Mr. Rice would say, “Ole Red was only human.

    On the tennis court a great doubles player, especially at the net.

  6. Charlie Grob permalink
    May 17, 2011 5:25 pm

    Legend or not, it wouldn’t suprise me. When he was head football coach, I’m told he would ask those seniors having cars to line up along the sidelines with their headlights on, if he wasn’t satisfied the way practice was going. Orian Rice was one great role model.

  7. Steven Weiner permalink
    May 17, 2011 12:14 pm

    …..and multiple choice at that! But, lest we forget, Mr. Rice also played two games for the New York Giants (football) in 1929!


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