Politics 101: The “Why” Behind MNA’s Actions, Endorsements

6 Oct

Why does the Minnesota Nurses Association get involved in Politics?
Though we realize that as an organization with 20,000 members, we’ll never all agree on every one of our political views, there are issues at stake that affect all of our practices, and we must be involved in politics and policy-making to ensure that nurses and the patients we advocate for have a voice at the table.

Like it or not, politicians play a huge role in shaping healthcare in general and the nursing profession in particular. For example, there will be a large push by Minnesota Nurses this fall urging state leaders to pass legislation aimed at curbing unsafe staffing incidents. Participating in MNA’s safe staffing campaign this fall and winter gives us the power and the universal voice to do what we do best – advocate for our patients.

How does MNA evaluate and endorse candidates?
There is an in-depth explanation of this on the MNA Web Site, but the short answer is this: Our nurse leaders look closely at a candidate’s position on issues that directly affect nursing, healthcare and working families. MNA endorsements are not based on party or ideological issues that are not related to nursing.

Why has MNA endorsed Mark Dayton for Governor?
Mark Dayton is the lone remaining candidate for Governor that supports our desire to see safe staffing legislation passed. He walked the picket lines with us to show his support multiple times during the Twin Cities contract negotiations earlier this summer. At the same time, Independence Party Candidate Tom Horner and his PR firm were busy masterminding the anti-nurse PR campaign run by the hospitals – one that portrayed nurses as greedy, irrational and overly emotional workers out of touch with economic reality. Tom Emmer has long been opposed to unions in general and is not at all supportive of the issues that are most important to the nursing profession; in fact he has said he won’t sign safe staffing legislation because he claims it will drive up costs without improving quality of care. Mark Dayton is the only candidate who trusts nurses, and believes us when we say there is a serious staffing problem in Minnesota’s hospitals.

We realize and respect everyone’s right to vote for whomever they’d like, and we encourage members to publicly debate which politicians and policies they favor in places such as this Blog or our MNA Facebook page.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts on politics and nursing issues along with what you think MNA can do to engage more nurses in political and policy advocacy.

6 Responses to “Politics 101: The “Why” Behind MNA’s Actions, Endorsements”

  1. Shelly Draeger March 28, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    I believe in keeping our patients safe and giving them the best care I can. I am thankful we were able to retain the tools to do that this past summer!!
    However, with all of the political “unrest” right now I do have a question/concern. How closely associated is our union associated with AFL-CIO and the SEIU? I do so appreciate my union members and the members of all the other unions who supported us this past summer, but I do have some concerns about the direction of these and other unions.
    Also, when I frist joined the ubnion I was given the choice of where I wanted my due to be used. Can you show me exactly where my dues are going?
    Thaks! Shelly, RN (Mercy Hospital)

    • mnnurses March 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

      Hi Shelly –

      MNA is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, which allows us to join together with millions of other workers across the country to work for economic justice for all working families. We partner with the AFL-CIO and other affiliates on political, legislative and organizing work.

      SEIU is not an affiliate of the AFL-CIO at the national level, but in Minnesota we sit at the same table at the MN AFL-CIO and other coalitions. In situations where we have common employers, MNA and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota have worked to support each other’s negotiations, strikes and other efforts.

      Of the total annual dues that a member pays, they can designate that $20 goes to either the Strike fund, MNAPC (political), or MNAF (foundation). The remaining dues are allocated based on the decisions made by the MNA Board of Directors.

      • Shelly Draeger April 13, 2011 at 7:03 am #

        I am going to have to seriously consider my continued membership. I am against the AFL-CIO and SEIU agendas.
        It really is too bad because I do believe “workers” need to organize to have some leverage in the work place but I have a hard time giving my money and name to the bigger picture and plans of the unions.

      • mnnurses April 13, 2011 at 8:50 am #

        Shelly I appreciate your input. Can you identify specific issues with the AFL-CIO – with whom MNA is affiliated – that you disagree with? MNA is not affiliated with SEIU.

  2. Shelly Draeger April 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    I guess I have been a little naive over the years where unions are concerned. I just figured the MNA was about nursing and nurses. Being so linked with unions with larger agendas- global agendas is uncomfortable.

    I am uncomfortable with the growing dislike- almost hatred on the part of the unions toward businesses; “greedy corporations.” I have seen it and read it on the AFL-CIO website, and more frequently here on the MNA website.
    I strongly dislike the immigration policies of the AFL-CIO. This can greatly decrease the availability of jobs for Americans. I am not against immigration, but I am against the lack of controll of immigration.
    I don’t like the class hatred language.
    Corporations are not perfect but they are not evil.
    This is just a quick run down of what I have been struggling with lately. Also, the AFL-CIO and SEIU are so closely linked that to say were are not “affiliated” with them is just a technicality.
    Also, seeing as you know who I am I’d like to know who I am taliking with here. Thanks for getting back to me 🙂

    • mnnurses April 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      Sure thing – sorry I didn’t identify myself earlier. I’m John Nemo and I do PR & Social Media here at MNA. I’m glad you are sharing your thoughts and we want all our members to feel listened to and understood. If you are interested in taking this further and potentially being one of our elected nurse leaders, here’s a link to the 2011 elections that are coming up – http://mnnurses.org/members/be-mna-membership-elections-2011 Thanks!

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