My mom is a pediatric hospital registered nurse and has been for just about 28 years or so now. Just last week, her nurse’s union went on strike because the hospital board for the hospital she’s worked at for her entire career has decided that they’re in the money game rather than the healthcare game.
The hospital took out full-page ads in newspapers to tell the public how greedy nurses are for wanting more money (they weren’t striking for more money), and then they locked out their own nurses for 4 days after the 1-day strike. This was partly was a punishment measure, partly that they people they contracted with to provide backup medical staff required 5 days’ staffing and the hospital didn’t want to pay their own staff for working as well. And when they finally opened the doors to the nurses, they thanked them for finally coming back to work. (?!)
The sad thing is that some of the public started agreeing with the hospital on social media. Yes, those nurses are so greedy and need to suck it up. Those nurses need to think about what’s best for the patients and go to work, regardless of work conditions, pay cuts, cuts in benefit, and retirement. Who cares about those nurses’ families and futures — they’re nurses. They need to work. So many people have it harder.
Nurses are not greedy. They work 12-hour shifts and sometimes don’t even take meal breaks during those time in order to make sure your family members are taken care of during their time of illness. They work weekends and holidays, they work through the night. They study and go to school throughout their entire careers so that people have the best care possible. On their days off, they teach CPR and first aid classes, renew certifications, go to professional developments. And yes, they have families who rely on them for support. My mom worked the evening shift full-time, would get off work at 7 AM after starting at 7 PM, pick me and my sisters up to drop us off at school, go shopping and do errands, maybe finally get some sleep starting around 9 AM, and then pick us up at 3 PM, drive us to our various after-school activities, and start it all over again. This is the situation of many nurses. And it breaks my heart for anyone to dare call people like her and her friends “greedy.” You have no idea.
My husband is a teacher, and people are complaining about how much he’s paid, because as we all know, teachers are lazy and make so much money for the job that they do. I’m sorry — but when did we start attacking NURSES and TEACHERS. What is wrong with people? They are literally saving lives and building futures — what wouldn’t you pay to have a highly trained professional in charge of YOUR LIFE when you’re in the hospital? What wouldn’t you pay to have a highly trained professional in charge of your CHILD’S FUTURE at school? When did people in society decide to think that nursing and teaching aren’t two of the most difficult jobs anyone could ever do?
Teachers are not lazy and aren’t just babysitters — most of them have spent over five years in school, whole YEARS dedicated to specifically learning teaching techniques. Yes, they get vacation time, but that’s because they’re working from 7 AM (6 AM in some cases) until easily 5:30 PM. That’s not even counting the weekends they spend supporting their students in various extracurricular activities. Then, when they get home at 6 PM, they lesson plan and read up on different teaching strategies for another hour or two. Trust me, these people are some of the smartest people you’ll ever meet. If they wanted to get rich working 50-60 hours a week, they would have gone into something that actually pays over $100k. My husband makes just under $50k a year working these hours. Don’t tell me he and his co-workers are greedy. They accept all of this, because they love their jobs and they love helping their students. People who go into service jobs like nursing and teaching aren’t in it for the money.
I cannot describe how angry I get when I hear someone say that maybe they’ll just go into teaching when they get bored of their current job. Excuse me? You’re using teaching as a chill backup for when you burn out? I have seen grown adults sob for hours because of the stress of trying to teach 150 teenagers to be decent human beings while also teaching content like grammar, basic writing skills, or math, or biology.
We need to re-think our values and re-think the way we accept the media spin on certain things. Why are you trusting what the person who makes over $400k a year says about how “lazy” nurses or teachers are when they’re asking for a living wage and decent retirement? Think about your own boss or CEO, think about your own situation, and imagine that your salary was under attack because your company has decided to use the money to build a new recreation center instead of giving it to the workers. So they’re asking you to work for 5% less, doing more work because of staff layoffs and cuts, and worse benefits because insurance is expensive. Nothing will change for your boss, though. They’ll still be making their $300k a year. Sound fair? That’s what these people are fighting against, and the higher-ups attacking them are somehow able to turn the public against them. Let’s be better about thinking through things before we accept the fact that workers who serve the public are greedy. Maybe the people trying to make a profit off public service are the ones we need to be looking at.