As the previous newsletter highlighted, bills at the legislature have faced corporate pushback from Mayo Clinic, which threatened to pull investments over the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act supported by the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA). This bill would set up committees that would include hospital staff and among other things, they would be able to set minimum staffing levels. Governor Tim Walz indicated he believed a compromise was possible. This “compromise” is now included in the new law, which will exempt Mayo Clinic from these requirements, sacrificing the working conditions of healthcare workers and caving to corporate threats.
Moral of the story: we can’t count on Walz. Not only did he fold, he pushed other legislators to fold too. Having worked in many hospitals around the country, I can tell you Mayo Clinic isn’t special. Taking care of “kings and princes” is not the marker of a quality hospital – taking care of everyone with equity, justice, and expertise, regardless of the ability to pay, is the marker of a quality hospital.This whole debacle is an example of why we desperately need to build more working class power.
In two weeks Mayo Clinic undid what MNA nurses have been working towards for months and years. Mayo used dirty tactics – secretive emails, bribery, blackmail, lies. Working class people need to build enough power to overcome those tactics. Corporate monsters like Mayo Clinic will continue to hoard money, bolstering their control over the public while patient outcomes decline and healthcare costs skyrocket. All to make sure they don’t have to be accountable to nurses who actually want to care for the sick and injured. All to make sure they don’t have to face the public when they inevitably score badly on their staffing plans.
The one positive in this article is that even though Mayo Clinic tried to pit the building trade unions against the nurses union, not one of them publicly spoke out against MNA. That means there’s hope for cross-industry solidarity, and for advancing worker unity and strength. This is a battle that Mayo Clinic and the ruling class have won for now, but what they don’t realize is that with every step they take in this direction, more and more workers will join the cause. More of the working class will get fed up with being squeezed, with not having a say, with having their personal and collective power taken from them. And eventually, we’ll out-organize them, outnumber them, and we’ll take that power back.
By Brooke B, Labor Branch Rep and Political Education Committee member