In a vote by its national Executive Council, National Nurses United (NNU) has endorsed Vice President Joe Biden for president.
NNU is the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses with some 155,000 members nationwide.
“We join with the tens of millions of Americans demanding a sharp break with President Trump’s disastrous policies, actions, and inflammatory rhetoric during the past four years and a new direction by electing former Vice President Biden,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN.
“For nurses, who have been struggling every day for months on the front lines of the worst pandemic of our lifetime, hampered by President Trump’s abandonment of public health and safety, the stakes in November could not be sharper,” Ross said.
“By contrast, Vice President Biden offers a different approach to meeting our nation’s challenges that better align with nurses’ values of caring, compassion, and community. We know this election is literally a matter of life and death for so many of our patients,” she added.
In addition to “Trump’s failure to protect the nation during this horrific national crisis,” Deborah Burger, RN, NNU president said there are many other reasons for a change in November.
Burger cited Trump’s fanning of racism and a white supremacy upsurge, trampling of worker’s rights, cruel immigration policies, an assault on environmental protections, and his escalating threat to democracy “all evidenced by his current, cynical re-election campaign.”
In the past few weeks alone, “the president has escalated his attacks on people speaking out for racial justice, while also encouraging the scaling back of safety measures and ignoring the appalling escalation of COVID-19 infections and deaths,” Burger said.
Concurrently, the Trump administration has reversed multiple workers’ and union rights, mainly through his corporate appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, eroded workplace safeguards and overturned a long list of public health, environmental, food safety, consumer, banking, student, and other regulatory protections, some going back 50 years or more.
“Vice President Biden is presenting a clear alternative to this president and his administration on a number of essential issues to nurses, and all working people,” NNU President Zenei Cortez, RN, said.
On the COVID-19 crisis, for example, “Biden has committed to fully invoke the Defense Production Act to mass produce personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure nurses and other health care workers will have the life-saving protections we need,” said Cortez.
Biden has also endorsed NNU’s call for an emergency federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard to protect worker’s safety during pandemics.
On worker’s justice, Biden supports the union organizing and collective bargaining rights of workers, including RNs. Biden has pledged to work with NNU and other unions to push for passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO ACT) bill which would strengthen labor law rights, add penalties for companies that retaliate against workers seeking union representation, and weaken anti-union “right to work” laws. It passed the House in February.
Biden also supports ensuring a vibrant Veterans Administration to provide high quality care for our nation’s service veterans, and the nurses and other VA employees, whose rights have been under attack by the Trump Administration, Cortez noted.
No matter who is elected, Ross noted, NNU will continue to mobilize on health care, racial, gender, worker, and environmental and climate justice and other priorities “that require a strong mass movement to overcome entrenched corporate and far right opposition,” Ross noted.
In particular, “NNU will continue our campaign, in which we have rallied thousands of people across the country to press for enactment of Medicare for All to guarantee health care as a human right for everyone, without the barriers imposed every day by a profit-focused health care industry,” Ross said. “The calamitous pandemic has reinforced why Medicare for All, as a public health emergency, is urgently needed more than ever.”