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Shame on you

Today, the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) staged the largest nursing strike in American history with over 12,000 nurses walking out on their patients.  According to the Pioneer Press, the main issues are 1. Pay and the amount of increase over the coming years, 2. Pension benefits, 3. Benefits, and 4. Staffing ratios.   The MNA states that this walkout is not related to money, but is about patient safety.  Simple math of the four issues will show you that this IS about money…..25% of the issues relate to patient safety and 75% relate to money.

Here are my issues with nurses and unions.  We are professionals, we are not blue collar laborers working on a dock.  We work in clean and for the most part safe environments.  We work long hours, but we also get a lot of time off to relax.  If we want to be treated like professionals, then we must act like professionals.

Throwing our hands up in the air and walking away is not how you solve problems in the work place.  Walking away from the patients we have dedicated ourselves to is not the way to solve the problem, it only increases it, by showing that we are not taking our profession seriously.  Physicians don’t walk off the job, lawyers don’t walk off the job, Accountants don’t walk off the job and firefighters don’t walk off the job.

I think if these nurses want to be professionals, they should really say what this is about and that is money.  Although the ratios are important, that is obviously not the focus of the walk-out.  By saying this was all because of patient safety, then walking out and leaving the patients in an even more dangerous situation is irresponsible.

I absolutely think that nurses should make more money for what we do.  It is obvious that is the reason for this walk out, but how can they say that with a straight face in this economic environment.  While our patients are losing their job and benefits, how can they look them in the eye and tell them they are abandoning them because they want more money and don’t want to pay for benefits?

Shame on you MNA for abandoning your patients because of your own selfishness.  You put them all at risk.

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Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed. Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university. Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.

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11 Responses to Shame on you

  1. John Welsh

    Your simplistic opinion piece criticizing Minnesota union nurses for standing up for better working conditions demands a response. To say this one-day strike is only about a pay raise ignores the facts. More than 90 percent of the union members voted to authorize this strike. Such a vote showed that nurses here in Minnesota wanted to send a message that staffing levels matter and that those at the bedside need to be heard. Yes, walking off the floor and on to a picket line is hard for any nurse. But any thoughtful analysis of the issue shows that it also can be an act of patient advocacy and not one of “selfishness.” Learn more about what the MNA nurses are fighting for at their web site at
    John Welsh RN
    (I’m a union nurse but not a member of the MNA.)

  2. Rob

    John….I did read the MNA stance and on the surface it does like it is about patient safety, but by digging a little deeper is really about $$$$$. You can call it working conditions, but when you get past all the terms, it is about money. Believe me, I want more money, I want my nurses to have more money and I want you to have more money, but there is a right way to go about it, and abandoning you patients it not the way. The union is not out for the patients best interest or even yours, they are out to make sure their pockets are lined. So I will continue to say it was selfish to walk out on the patients, but most of all it was unprofessional.

  3. Todd

    Rob, I couldn’t agree with you more. I had a similar discussion with some classmates a month or two ago when the Temple Univ nurses were on strike. They were already being offered guranteed raises for the next 3 years (might have even been 4. Who else in this economy gets guranteed raises?). The big issues in the end were a “gag” clause about being able to disbarrage the hospital (their very own employer) in the press, and get this…they were expecting the hospital to continue providing free tuition to Temple U. or $6000 a year tuition reimbursement at another school, and not just for the nurses but for their dependents as well. I certainly understand why they would want to keep that, but I don’t understand how someone can justify that being an expectation of their employer.

    Of course in the press and on the picket lines the issues were about quality patient care and safety. That rang a little hollow though when they abandoned their patients for over a month, and then in the end their was nothing new having anything to do with patient care.

    I hope the greedy unions stay away from my area!

  4. Andrea Nutt


    You are completely incorrect in your assessment of the sitution. Have you looked at anything but the Pioneer Press article? Have you read the language in the proposal? It is out there if you want to do more than scratch the surface of the situation ( I am not working in MN but I have worked in the hospitals where the nurses went on strike yesterday. The nurses went on strike because they are being stretched beyond what they believe is safe for the patient. Patient safety is the reason for the strike. The Minnesota Hospital Association would like you to believe that it is about money (And believe you did.) but that is not at all why my friends and former co-workers felt forced into a 1-day strike. If the hospitals would have supported the proposed staffing guidelines, I am fairly certain the wages would have been a concession that the Minnesota Nurses Association would have considered. Please put a little research into your article if you feel the need to speak to such a divisive issue.

  5. Amanda

    This is a very one sided take on the situation that is horribly derogatory to the nurses in Minnesota who were brave enough to do the right thing and stand up for patient safety and themselves. I am horrendously offended that you portray all of these nurses as greedy individuals who don’t give a care about their patients. Shame on you, Rob, for such a narrow minded article. Perhaps you should act like a true professional and look at all of the evidence surrounding a situation before firing off such derogatory comments.

  6. Rob

    Brave enough to walk out on their patients? Thats a interesting way to put it. It is not a shot at the nurses, it is to the union. Although the nurses should have been strong enough and professional enough to say that they are putting their patients even more at risk. Take it how you will, but those nurses are the ones who chose to abandon their patients.

  7. Tracee

    Amen! This is the exact same way I feel. Striking is the equivalent of a 5 year old throwing a temper tantrum. “You don’t want to pay me more money?! FINE! I won’t work then!” The idea of nurses striking makes me sick and fact that they disguise it as “patient safety issues” is absolutely disgusting. The Temple nursing strike had me fuming. There is no place for unions in nursing. Unions look good on paper, but they are only as powerful as the greediest member. Nurses ARE professionals. We need to respect ourselves and know we have the individual power to make our own changes in our own careers as we see fit.

    Commenter John: 90% of the union voted for the strike because 90% of the union wanted more money! And you got your information from the union website? Really?

    Commenter Andrea: For someone getting so righteous about facts and research, its funny that you propose a theoretical situation to explain away the money issues

    Commenter Amanda: Brave? Are you kidding?! The brave ones would have stood up against the union and taken care of their patients. This is typical mob mentality. It’s easier to go with the flow than go against it.

    Thank you Rob! We need more intelligent independent thinkers like you in our profession.

  8. Tracee

    In the spirit of “fairness” and “research”, here is a page from the hospital stating the conditions of the negotiations. Funny how the MNA manifesto leaves out the parts about wages, health care and pension.

  9. Kim

    Im alittle confused how walking out on your patients is “doing the right thing”? You say this strike is to benefit the patients and the staff:patient ratio. If this is the right thing to do, tell me, who is taking care of YOUR patients while you are out doing the right thing? Who is taking care of them??? Are they getting the care they need or are they just getting by? Who is passing the meds? Oh thats right….the floor LPN. They have a pretty crappy nurse:patient ratio too, dont they? Who would take care of your patient if he/she suffered a cardiac arrest while you were out doing the right thing? I guess none of that matters as long as you feel comfortable with it!!! What a shame. If you really wanted to do the right thing, you would honor the oath you took when you became a nurse, and took care of those put in your charge.

  10. Shadow

    Frankly, I think it should be shame on hospital corporations that…are “in it for the money”….and deliberately and willfully, do not staff correctly …for either patient safety nor for staffing ability to do all the work involved. When nursing finally is worn out, and events have occurred that cause problems with patients or staff safety….. the hospital lawyers try to blame the nurses….not the facilities… and the public is told..”it was the nurses at fault…”…. I am tired of being understaffed, underpaid, told I have to keep my end of the “bargain”…but, corporate never has to do their end of it. Sure, walking out leaves the public in a bind….. when the slaves revolt……… but, if conditions do not improve, then you have people leaving the profession…and the corporation hires in foreign nurses, who may barely speak English, and their education is under par for the job. Figure it out, Rob. Until something is done differently… nothing will change… Striking may be the only way to get corporate complience!!!

  11. Rob

    “Shadow”, first of all, if you are going to criticize, please have the decency to you use your name. Anyway…..”slaves?” Is that how you see yourself? I feel more sorry for you than the nurses who couldn’t stand up to the union to protect their patients. Here is what I tell everybody, if you don’t like the money you are making, or feel that the working conditions are not safe, there are plenty of places you can work that will probably meet your qualifications, AND there are plenty of nurses lined up out that would kill to work for that money and in those conditions.

    Unions served their purpose at one time. When working conditions were deplorable and unsafe to everybody. When employees were getting paid pennies per week. When children were forced to work. When people were dying. Now we have OSHA to protect us as employees, JCAHO to protect our patients, labor laws to protect us, and a boat load of lawyers chomping at the bit to get everything else there is. We make good money, although I would love more. I work in a safe environment. And most importantly, I practice safely to ensure I don’t hurt my patients.

    Its all about personal and professional responsibility. Do you want to look yourself in the mirror and say I am the nurse who walked out on my patients, or I am the nurse who stood up to the union to protect my patients? I know what my answer would be, because I have personal and professional integrity.

    So, “Shadow”, you want me to “figure it out”, well I have figured it out. I will always practice in a way that my patients are safe, and the biggest part of that is not abandoning them. If you don’t want to work for a “hospital corporation” that is “in it for the money”, then move to a not-for-profit, but guess what, they still need to make money to pay the electric bill, the water bill, all the free care promised in Obama care and to pay your salary.