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Opinion: Stop pitting nurses against hospitals during the pandemic

Nurses are the backbone of medical care, especially in a time of crisis. If you think about it, no American can say that they have not been helped by nurses, who are there in times of need from the beginning of life. Many of my family members are nurses, and I know personally the selflessness and sacrifices they make while confronting the joys and grim realities of life in a single day. They are the heroes serving on the frontlines as Americans grapple with this pandemic, and their service should be revered.

State Rep. John Wiemann

In every crisis, there are some who seek to take advantage of the moment when they think nobody is looking.  Unfortunately, this time it’s Big Labor. National Nurses United (NNU), a fairly young labor union founded in 2009, is using the coronavirus outbreak and the effect it is having on the medical community as an attempt to unionize hospitals and grow their membership — plain and simple. 

While nurses on the ground are treating patients, the NNU is staging protests at hospitals in Missouri, raising issue with the supply levels of personal protective equipment (PPE), working hours during the crisis, and hazard pay. While all of these are valid concerns for nurses, protesting local hospitals is concerning. Hospitals and their advocacy groups are working overtime to get supplies, which is held up everywhere due to supply issues everywhere. 

Protesting your local hospital system for a global supply issue is misdirected. The reason they are protesting these hospitals has less to do with PPE and funding, and a whole lot more to do with attempting to strong-arm systems into unionization. 

Demonstrations like these at local hospitals do more harm than good when it comes to procuring equipment and financial resources because it breaks apart the unified voice that successful advocacy requires. Local hospitals are on the phone with leaders in Jefferson City and Washington D.C., constantly, pushing for needed supplies. In a game of true global shortages, that advocacy is a very precious resource. 

Nurses should freely exercise their First Amendment rights, but a large national labor union pushing for employee unrest at the peak of the most crushing global pandemic is just plain wrong. There is a time and place for these discussions, but this is simply not it. 

I know first-hand that doctors, nurses, emergency care workers, and hospital employees are dealing with a horrific situation with grace. That is what is so troubling about anyone pushing a narrative that pits employees against their employers at a time like this. 

We need to be encouraging the government at all levels to step up and get the production of these resources kicked into high gear. Protesting your local hospital won’t get that done and dividing the medical community and pitting nurses against hospitals is just wrong. As we face the toughest days, we must remain united, and resist polarizing the pandemic.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.