Nurses Can Still Learn Something from Know-Nothing Politician

By Carrie Mortrud, RN

Carrie Mortrud RN
Carrie Mortrud, RN MNA Project Specialist

MNA Project Specialist


Ok, by now, you’ve probably heard the ignorant and irresponsible comments of Washington state Senator Maureen Walsh who attacked all nurses by opposing a bill aimed at guaranteeing breaks and stopping mandatory overtime.

Walsh unwisely said this while the Washington state Senate considered SHB 1155, which would provide nurses with uninterrupted meal and rest breaks.

“I would submit to you that those nurses probably do get breaks,” Walsh said on the Senate floor. “They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”

Despite the ridiculousness of her comments, that doesn’t mean that every MNA member shouldn’t take something away from this ignorant comment, even though the Senator has said she regrets the remark (ironically, she claimed she was “tired” from no breaks at the Capitol. What happens nurses when nurses get tired?).

This incident shows that no one, yes, no one knows what it’s like as a nurse unless you actually have or do work at the bedside.  It says that the issues of staffing, workplace violence, proper training, floating to an unfamiliar unit, etc. are only seen by the nurses. Sure, patients know when the hospital is short staffed. They know they’re waiting for call lights or meds or bathroom help, but they don’t know it can be like this every day. They just know it’s happening to them right now.

The hospitals want to keep it this way too. After all, if they close off patient care, no one can see what a circus it can be or what a safety risk either. They can’t see that nurses are giving 110 percent every day, every shift, everywhere to keep up with patient needs, patient acuity, and all the other situations nurses have to juggle.

While it’s funny for nurses to post memes and comebacks on Facebook or wherever to the clueless Senator Walsh of Washington, we need to remember only nurses can tell our stories. Only nurses can talk about safe patient care, about workplace violence, about harassment, about staffing. We’re the only ones who get it. For now. If we want patients (and therefore hospitals) to get it too, we have to show them what nursing looks like.

A lot of nurses are expressing their outrage at these comments on Facebook and by calling the Senator. The best way to really want to make change at your hospital, however, is to support the MNA Metro Negotiating Teams that are bargaining over proposals that would provide the resources to actually allow nurses to take breaks, and have proper staffing. Management has shown little to no interest in any of these proposals and in many cases, seems to think that nurses rarely miss their breaks. Nurses across the metro are supporting their Teams by attending negotiations, making calls to their Nursing Directors, and wearing pins and buttons in support. Contact your MNA Negotiating Team or MNA staff for more details on how to get involved and make change in your hospital.



  1. Nurses often don’t take breaks but don’t take credit for omitting the break on their time card. Every time I legitimately do not have time for 15-20 minutes to eat/drink and check my phone, I always select “missed meal” on the time clock. I encourage others to as well. 15 minute breaks are generally unheard of. At St John’s HealthEast, we are the only hospital in HealthEast that takes 6 patients on night shift. Joe’s and Woodwinds only take 5. I have been told this will not be changing. I was also not given a reason when asking why we take one more patient than them. Most of the time when I get 1-2 admits at night and have a full caseload, I am unable to take breaks. We do not have backup resources at night. Our charge RN is usually pretty busy and has patients of their own. They are helpful, but that only goes so far. Anyway, I think staff RNs need to be reminded that if they truly aren’t taking their break, they need to sign out a missed break on their time card. Otherwise management doesn’t know, and nothing will change.

  2. Very important message, Carrie. But, having worked my entire career (except for my first year out of college) in a NON-metro hospital, I think we should be supporting EVERY MNA facility’s negotiations! I know that in greater MN there is far less negotiations support from the members, much less union support. I know Willmar had a very difficult negotiation last year and the MNA BOD was (or should have been) aware of this and supported these nurses, especially the ones doing the negotiations. However, there was NEVER a site visit by any BOD member or even a reachout of support for these nurses! Until EVERY MNA facility gets “supported” as they should, it’s going to be even more difficult to negotiate and to keep “union strong” year after year!

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