United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the Friedrichs case

Today, a coalition of nurse advocates from Washington to California gathered on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to warn that a controversial case targeting worker and union rights poses a significant threat to public health, safety and quality of life.

Friedrichs v. CTA involves a challenge supported by far right, anti-union groups to the right of public unions to require all employees who receive the benefits of representation, including higher wages, safer working conditions and better benefits, to pay their fair share of the cost of representation.

“For nurses, who depend on the protection of their union to be able to advocate, without fear of employer retaliation, for their patients at a time when massive healthcare corporations are placing profits over public and patient safety, the threat is particularly dire,” said NNU co-president Jean Ross, RN.

“As nurses our ability to have a collective voice for our patients is critical. Without the support of our union, nurses have little protection to speak out and challenge unsafe staffing or other eroding patient care conditions that happen all too often in our hospitals,” said Martese Chism, RN (above, left of center) who works in a major Chicago public hospital.

“We know that in states that allow for the scheme Friedrichs is attempting to impose on all public sector nurses, that infant mortality rates are 17.7 percent higher and life expectancy is lower,” said Chism. “For nurses, these appalling numbers are unacceptable.”

“The clear goal behind Friedrichs has nothing to do with individual rights, and everything to do with the larger far right and corporate goals of defunding and crippling all unions and their ability to represent their members and the public interest,” said Ross.

Click here to see more images from today’s Supreme Court hearing