CA nurses ‘feel the Bern’

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 3:35 PM

A shining ruddy charter bus plastered with an image of the VT senator among a sea of nurses is expected to cross the CA state line in early May.

CA nurses ‘feel the Bern’

The “Bernie Bus” is coming. A shining ruddy charter bus plastered with an image of the VT senator among a sea of nurses is expected to cross the CA state line in early May.

The billboards are already here. Drivers look a silhouette of Bernie Sanders’ unkempt white head of hair and glasses with a checklist of his stances on jumbo-sized ads along Auburn Blvd exterior Carmichael, Highway fifty and Interstate 80.

Both types of political advertisements bear the title of the same sponsor: National Nurses United.

The union, representing some 185.00 nurses, is enthusiastically supporting Sanders over Hillary Clinton. Thus far, the NNU has spent $2.6 million on an independent campaign maintain his Democratic tender for the presidency.

The nurses have driven the Bernie Bus across the country, stopping at college campuses, hospitals and events alongside the candidate in state after state. Presently it’s California’s turn.

It might seem curious that a union dominated by women – ninety % of members are female – has chosen the male candidate in the race. The nurses union has been solidly behind Sanders’ campaign since August. His support of single-payer health care, calls to ban fracking and “tax the rich” approach are driving their agenda.

“We would've loved to crack the glass ceiling,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United and CA Nurses Association. “But first we've to shatter the ‘class ceiling’ with Bernie Sanders.”

The union’s failure to back Clinton over Sanders is a blow to her campaign, but also in line with past endorsements. United American Nurses and the American Nurses Organization supported Barack Obama over Clinton back in 2008.

National Nurses United was formed the following year, pooling members of the CA Nurses Association, National Nurses Organizing Committee, United American Nurses, and MA Nurses Association. NNU endorsed Obama in two thousand-twelfth, citing a shared trust about standing up to Wall Str and deep concerns about Mitt Romney.

Nurses have been behind Sanders’ campaigns in VT for the past twenty years, DeMoro said. Clinton does have the endorsement of the American Nurses Association, a professional organization that nurses have the option to join.

The union has a history of using aggressive tactics against its foes. Nurses campaigned tough for Gov. Jerry Brown in two thousand-tenth and fiercely opposed his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, whom they portrayed as a costumed “Queen Meg” and protested exterior her home. When former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger crossed them by suspending portions of a law to limit the no of patients assigned to each nurse, the union declared war, crashing his events and heckling him.

“They are a militant operation,” said Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford Univ and a former speechwriter for Gov. Pete Wilson.

Whalen said the union takes advantage of the white hat the profession wears in society, leverage also held by firefighters or teachers.

“They go in and it’s full-throttle, no-holds-barred campaigning,” he said. “They lift a ruckus. They bang drums. They indicate up and obtain attention. They've the skill to drive a message home.”

Consultants declare it’s challenging to define if the union’s support has paid off for Sanders in other states. The Sanders camp, on the other hand, thinks the union’s on-the-ground work has boosted the campaign.

“They’ve definitely helped,” said Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs. “They are in a profession that's beloved by Americans all over the country.”

NNU campaigned for Sanders in nearly every state that's held caucuses or primaries, said union spokesman Charles Idelson. Clad in the union’s signature ruddy shirts, the nurses speak with voters, conduct phone banks, canvass the state and do social media outreach, he said.

The union paid for billboards in Iowa, Nevada, NH and S Carolina, Idelson said. Sanders lost in every state except New Hampshire. Billboards are also up in New York, PA and Maryland, which vote later this month. CA weighs in on June 7.

“When we obtain to California, it’s going to be love nothing you’ve ever seen,” DeMoro promised. “We’ll be everywhere he is.”

In a state the size of California, few endorsements alone move the needle, and most voters have already made up their minds at this point, said Katie Merrill, founder of the California-based political consulting firm The Merrill Strategy Group.

But Merrill and Whalen consent that the union’s grass-roots tactics – billboards, buses, T-shirts and other on-the-ground work – may drive pro-Sanders voters to the polls to assistance him win delegates in key congressional districts.

“In this situation, it’s perfect for exciting Sanders’ base of support and reminding to vote,” Merrill said of the billboards the union is paying for across the state. “It’s about generating visibility.”

The union is an advocate for Sanders’ single-payer health plan, in which health insurance would be administered by the government and funded by taxes.

Sanders has routinely called out high deductibles and co-pays below the Affordable Care Act and says his map would lower skyrocketing health care costs by allowing the government to deal prices for services on behalf of patients.

“One out of five Americans cannot afford the prescription drugs their doctors prescribe,” Sanders said in a Democratic debate on March nine. “Elderly people are cutting their pills in half. I do believe that we should do what every other major country on earth does, and I think when the American people stand up and fight back, yes, we can have it, a Medicare-for-all system.”

Clinton has remained faithful to Obamacare and plans to offset out-of-pocket costs with tax credits.

“Between the Republicans trying to repeal the first chance we’ve ever had to obtain to universal health care, and Senator Sanders wanting to toss us into a contentious debate over single-payer, I think the bright approach is construct on and defend the Affordable Care Act,” Clinton said in the same debate. “Make it work. Reduce the cost.”

The union also agrees with Sanders’ opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, an extension to a system of oil pipes stretching from Canada to southern Texas, and his tough stance on fracking. DeMoro said the nurses are concerned about health effects of the practice.

When asked about fracking in an earlier debate, Clinton said she doesn’t support the practice in three instances: If the state or local community is against it, if it releases methane or contaminates water and if companies don’t disclose the chemicals they use.

“So, by the time we obtain through all of my conditions, I don't think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to get place,” Clinton said. “And I think that’s the best approach, because right now, there (are) places where fracking is going on that aren't sufficiently regulated.”

Sanders had no conditions.

“My reply is a lot shorter,” he said. “No, I don't support fracking.”

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