Teachers Are Not Babysitters, Nurses Are Not Disposable
by C.A. Matthews
After spending years in college studying for a profession you feel "called" to do, you'd hope you'd garner more respect, more compassion from your bosses than a curt declaration of, "We don't care if your health is at risk. Get back to work. Now. Or else."
But that's exactly what's happening in Year Three of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Two examples recently in the headlines: public school teachers and hospital nurses. These professions primarily have been held by females, many of them women of color and single mothers. Their bosses--school superintendents and hospital administrators--are roles primarily held by males, and white males at that.
Another worrisome connection between these two particular professions is that both have come under the scrutiny and control of private corporations in recent times, albeit in somewhat different manners.
Nurses nowadays mostly work for private, for-profit hospitals and clinics. They are discouraged from organizing or joining a union. The first emphasis of their job performance is on generating profits for their stockholders, not necessarily on providing the best patient care possible. The faster patients come and go into a hospital, for instance, the quicker their private insurances can be billed, and the more money is made for the hospital/health insurance networks CEOs.
Public school teachers have been backed into a corner when it comes to contract negotiations by the threat of school districts allowing private "charter schools" to open up in their towns. Charter schools tend to hire less educated, less qualified teachers for less pay, and they're not open to unions. They follow cookie-cutter educational plans that "guarantee success" according to the CEOs of these educational corporations.
It's a well known fact that public school districts regularly receive kickbacks from these charter school corporations But rarely is this kickback money utilized to improve the public schools' facilities or equipment or increase compensation for the teaching staff. Inner city public schools in particular have received less and less funding as more and more charter schools have sprung up.
Sadder yet, many public schools are seen as simply "daycare services" by many private businesses. They exist simply so parents of grade school-aged children can work outside of the home. The quality of education isn't as important as keeping the kids out of their parents' hair so they can continue working many hours in low-paying jobs.
Could the influence of private corporations explain the ill treatment teachers and nurses have received recently from politicians? Politicians in the US are an example of yet another profession that has been heavily influenced by private corporations, particularly since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has threatened public school teachers who have gone on strike because it simply isn't safe to teach in person during this recent surge of omicron variant COVID-19. She refuses to allow them to have online learning classes, and instead is trying to force both students and teachers back into non-well-ventilated school buildings. Why is the health and safety of children and teachers not seen as important as the profits of the corporations who want their parent-employees back slaving away in warehouses, factories, retail stores, hospitals, and restaurants?
Many nurses have been working with less-than-adequate PPE and N95 masks for almost two years now. Many have become ill and some have died because of this lack of safety equipment. They have been forced to work overtime and endure long shifts, which further drains their health and puts them at risk of catching COVID. Nurses have walked out and threatened strikes nationwide because of these hazardous work conditions, although the mainstream media has conveniently not followed many of these stories. Why haven't the nurses' demands been met by management? After all, we are in the midst of a health crisis--shouldn't all health workers' safety be paramount to profits?
And there's that word again: profits. Teachers aren't seen as educators who wish to instill the love of knowledge in their students and help children grow in wisdom. Nurses aren't seen as caregivers who wish to ease pain, cure illness, and take the best care of their patients as humanly possible. No, these professions have been downgraded to their barest of functions in order to make the most profits for their related private corporations.
Public school teachers exist to babysit the kids of the poor working classes, so that these distracted parents don't realize how much better pay they deserve for working dead end jobs where massive profits go straight into the pockets of CEOs to buy yet more yachts.
Nurses exist to push profit-generators--that is, patients--through the medical-industrial complex quickly, so that maximum amounts of money may be extracted with the least amount of time and material spent on said profit-generators.
And if these teachers and nurses should get sick on the job during this pandemic? Well, they are tossed to the side and simply replaced, right? Workers are a dime a dozen in the eyes of elitists--especially female workers, POC workers…
Is it any wonder why the aroma of a general strike is in the air?
In the following video, Lee explains the history of why capitalists feel that generating profits are much more important than workers' lives. https://youtu.be/GrMp_cOyf0E
This is NOT a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated https://peterdaou.substack.com/p/this-is-not-a-pandemic-of-the-unvaccinated
Affordable Child Care is the Boost Our Economy Needs https://scheerpost.com/2022/01/07/affordable-child-care-is-the-boost-our-economy-needs/
Chicago Teachers Voted to Teach Remotely Amid Omicron Wave https://popularresistance.org/chicago-teachers-voted-to-teach-remotely-amid-omicron-wave/
Schools Need More Resources Before They Can Open Safely Chicago Teacher Says https://truthout.org/articles/schools-need-more-resources-before-they-can-open-safely-chicago-teacher-says/
Instead of More Support, Schools Have Upped Demands on Teachers During Pandemic https://scheerpost.com/2022/01/09/instead-of-more-support-schools-have-upped-demands-on-teachers-during-pandemic/
Teachers Fighting For School Safety Are Not The Enemy https://therealnews.com/teachers-fighting-for-school-safety-are-not-the-enemy
US Workers Are Still Quitting Their Jobs In Record Numbers https://jacobinmag.com/2022/01/labor-jolts-quits-employment-wages-unions
Take This Job and Shove It (music video): https://youtu.be/gj2iGAifSNI
Nurses on COVID Frontline Speak Out (video) https://youtu.be/40WAimj8Aac
Omicron Spike Is Training Straining Hospitals As Health Care Workers Leave the Profession https://truthout.org/video/omicron-spike-is-straining-hospitals-as-health-care-workers-leave-the-profession
Seen on Twitter:
The most effective thing we can do right now is support teachers & other workers who strike to oppose unsafe conditions. The most powerful thing we can do is disrupt the economy until the government enacts actual public health policy. — Bree Newsome Bass (@BreeNewsome) January 6, 2022
Going to work should not mean putting your life and the lives of your loved ones in danger.
— Eric Stanley (@Eric_A_Stanley) January 8, 2022
Sorry to interrupt your morning but I have to tell you that 3 of my colleagues worked 16hrs last night as no nurse showed up to replace them. As you know, nurses are taught not to "abandon" patients. They had 1 code blue, no breaks, will be back for another shift tonight.— Birgit Umaigba RN, MEd (@birgitomo) January 8, 2022
Last week, NNU President and RN Jean Ross told the CNN Newsroom the truth: that by weakening their Covid-19 isolation guidelines to seven days for health care workers — and even less time if there are staffing shortages — the CDC is putting thousands of lives at risk.
While the CDC now claims this change is motivated by science, nurses know it’s motivated by something else entirely: employers wanting workers back on the clock fast, regardless of whether it’s safe, to maximize their profits.
We’ve fought since day one of this pandemic for protections for nurses and health care workers based on science and the precautionary principle, and we’re not backing down now. will you help us draw attention to this failure to protect patients, nurses, and other health care workers by joining our national day of action on January 13?
On this national day of action, nurses, other health care workers, and activists across the country will be standing up for change — and C.A., having your support at this critical moment will make a huge impact.
This move by the CDC comes as Omicron is exploding across the country, single-day records for Covid-19 cases continue to be broken, and the number of available ICU beds dwindles in hospital after hospital. What’s more, this change comes right as OSHA announced its plan to rescind hard-won emergency protections for health care workers.
Plain and simple, we are dumbfounded and enraged by these actions and the very real risk they pose for nurses, other health care workers, and patients. But we refuse to go backward, and we need your help to protect nurses and patients now.
Join us in fighting for our nurses, patients, and other health care workers by signing up for our national day of action on January 13th. After signing up, we’ll make sure you have everything you need to take action.
Thanks for your support,
National Nurses United
In December, not long after workers in Buffalo, New York successfully organized the first Starbucks union, we reported on what happened to Brittany Harrison, a Starbucks store manager in Arizona.
Starbucks fired Brittany Harrison after she exposed the company’s union-busting plans. Now Brittany’s store in Mesa, Arizona is following in Buffalo’s footsteps and unionizing in response to Starbucks' behavior.
They’re facing Starbucks' extreme anti-union tactics at their own store.
As these courageous Starbucks workers fight to become the next unionized Starbucks store in the U.S., the More Perfect Union media team is there to cover it and expose Starbucks management for not living up to the values they advertise. Help stand in solidarity with workers by watching and sharing our reporting now!
Starbucks has pulled out all the stops to try and kill workers’ attempts to form a union.
Intimidation tactics such as flooding the floor with managers who, in the words of one worker, are “trying to figure out ways that they can fire us.” Managers eavesdrop on conversations. They hold special meetings, splitting workers up, and providing free pizza -- then telling them they “have to vote no” on forming a union.
The biggest anti-union move of all was to fire Brittany Harrison while she’s battling cancer after more than 4 years working her way up to managing her own store, because she released a video exposing an anti-union meeting led by Starbucks HQ.
Silence is not solidarity. That’s why we need your help today. Check out More Perfect Union’s exclusive report, then subscribe to our channel and help boost our reach by sharing to your social networks today.
Thank you for working to build a More Perfect Union.
Faiz Shakir, Co-Founder