The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins Hospital Nurses Organizing

Jan 7, 2019

Nurses at Baltimore’s Hopkins Hospital – considered to be one of the best in the country – are trying to unionize. Recently some Hopkins Hospital nurses and their union organized a “town hall event.” This rally was enthusiastically attended by a standing-room-only crowd of more than 250 people.

Other workers at the hospital have been unionized for years by SEIU Local 1199E. But now some of the more than 500 registered nurses at Hopkins say they have reached the breaking point and want union representation, too, as part of National Nurses United, a rapidly growing organization of nurses across the country.

The Hopkins nurses have put out a report outlining the problems that nurses face at the hospital. They say that there aren’t enough nurses. They are underpaid, being run ragged on their jobs and cannot give patients the care they need. Wait times in the Adult Emergency Department are unsafe on most days, sometimes reaching up to 18 hours in the emergency room. Some patients have had seizures, heart attacks and loss of consciousness from bleeding while waiting to be seen.

The nurses also say that there is a critical lack of experienced nurses in some units, because these nurses have been leaving. It is common in these units for an RN with only a year or two of experience to be the most senior nurse on a shift. This lack of experience is dangerous for patients and places nurses in difficult situations in which they have to take assignments they are not confident in performing.

Finally, the nurses sometimes have shoddy equipment and inadequate supplies, including lack of proper gloves to prevent infections and good infusion pumps for administering pain medications.

These problems will sound familiar to nurses all over the country because these problems exist at virtually every hospital. But the nurses at Hopkins say they will not stop organizing and raising hell until their union is recognized and the hospital takes action to solve the problems they and their patients face. Bravo!