Ebola and Unions

Oct 20, 2014 by

Ron Isaac – There are many lessons to be learned from the Ebola plague, some completely unrelated to disease. One of them is the importance of unions in protecting not only their members but the public at large. In this case it was the nurses union. In other situations it has been the teachers unions and others.

The nurses union released vital information about mistakes and spin at the Texas hospital where patient Thomas Duncan died. They also unveiled errors of the Center for Disease Control.It was the vigilance, professionalism and courage of the nurses that saved us from greater damage and a more dire outlook. But if the nurses weren’t unionized, those virtues would likely have got them fired, because their employer prohibits employees from dealing with the media.The nurses detailed many specific examples of deficient protocol as well as potentially lethal breaches of standard procedure. These breaches are verifiable and are beyond debate.

Nurses were not supplied with appropriate protective gear, lab specimens were transferred in a way prone to contamination, nurses were assigned other patient duties even after they were exposed to the highly infectious bodily fluids of the fatally ill patient, and they were never even trained in the correct management of such patients.

The serial bungling was not malicious but it was nonetheless culpable and after acting humble and a bit self-deprecatory in front of network cameras, management would have sacked the nurses who put the obstacle of truth in the way of the hospital’s alibis.

The most sensitive healers in a hospital where emergencies turn out bad are the spin doctors.But unions are firewalls against corruption and the nurses were unionized.

The Texas Presbyterian Hospital exposed the population to virus. National Nurses United exposed Texas Presbyterian Hospital to accountability and indignation.  By pointing out that they felt “unsupported, unprepared, lied to and deserted,” the nurses were not representing only their members on the front-lines but every person in the geographic unit known as our nation.

The combined government apparatus and health care industry acted in the interest of public relations. It was solely the nurses union that related to the public interest.

The organized nurses have made a mighty contribution. At other times and in different environments and issues, it has been unionized teachers, miners, transit workers and other critical laborers who have raised consciousness and saved lives.

Unions don’t only make their members strong. They strengthen everyone.  It just takes the right context of events to spread that realization


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