By Shannon Cunningham
Director of Governmental and Community Relations
It’d be great if we all could elect our own boss. And the boss’ boss. And the boss’ boss’ boss. A vote against is a vote to fire them. A yes vote is a vote to hire them. Most importantly, no vote at all signals that you just don’t care. Sound familiar? Maybe because we actually can do that now.
It’s why elections matter. Take Attorney General Laurie Swanson, for example. The Minnesota Nurses Association has had a longstanding great relationship with AG Swanson. We have worked with her extensively on issues, such as fair billing practices at hospitals and preventing a merger of Sanford Health and the University of Minnesota.. Because of her strong track record in support of nurses and patients, MNA has regularly endorsed and helped to re-elect Attorney General Swanson. If nurses and other supporters hadn’t turned out in support of AG Swanson in her re-elections, there is a chance we could be living in a very different world where Sanford Health ran the U of M hospital and patients were continuing to get badgered to pay their hospital bills while fresh out of surgery. Elections matter.
The recent contract campaigns have taught us numerous lessons about the importance of politics in our lives. During the course of the picketing outside Allina and Essentia hospitals, literally dozens of elected officials and candidates joined members on the picket line to show their support. Additionally, we have had dozens more send letters and make phone calls to Allina asking them to bargain a fair contract with the nurses. It shows that not only is the public with the nurses, so are many power brokers across the state.
Electing legislators who support nursing issues, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, is increasingly important. This was extremely evident in the recent strike when MNA used information available on the Minnesota Board of Nursing website to track the number of temporary nursing licenses issued to replacement workers prior to the strike. This valuable information helped us to measure when Allina started to hire and how many nurses they were hiring. However, if MNA had not worked to elect nurse friendly legislators who then worked to help prevent the nurse licensure compact from coming to Minnesota, this wouldn’t have been the case. Instead, we wouldn’t know anything about the replacement workers, where they were from, who they were, and when they were coming.
For more information on who has been supportive of nursing and labor issues at the Capitol, please check out the MNA website at https://mnnurses.org/issues-advocacy/elections/endorsements/ or the MNA scorecard included as an insert in this edition of the Accent.