CANTON, Mass. — The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), which represents more than 22,000 registered nurses and health care professionals in Massachusetts and is the third largest state nurses association in the nation, announced its endorsement and support for Senator John Kerry for President, citing his strong record in addressing complex health care issues, and his longstanding support for nurses in their efforts to improve care to patients.
"The MNA is behind John Kerry because of his strong record and continued commitment and dedication to the nursing profession and patient safety," said Karen Higgins, President of the MNA. "We have had the honor and distinction to work first hand with him on a myriad of nursing and health care issues over the past several years. In each case, he has been attentive, pro-active and action oriented.
Higgins added: "As nurses struggle to provide quality patient care in understaffed environments made worse by a looming nursing shortage, John Kerry has reached out to the nursing community to hear our concerns and has led efforts on the national level to implement the policies and changes needed to improve conditions for nurses and for patients. He believes we need to ensure that there are adequate staffing levels of registered nurses in our health care facilities and he understands that the working environment for nurses, caused in part by understaffing, is part of the reason that we have a nursing shortage. And, as all nurses know, it can undermine the quality of care."
In highlighting their endorsement, the MNA pointed to a number of specific actions by Kerry, including:
- He personally sat down for more than 15 hours with the staff nurses and worked to convince management to resolve a 102-day Brockton Hospital nurses strike over unsafe staffing levels and mandatory overtime. He has subsequently filed legislation on the Federal level that would place strict limits on mandatory overtime for nurses.
- He sponsored and spearheaded passage of the Nurse Reinvestment Act and secured its funding to provide educational and scholarship incentives for those entering the nursing profession.
- He has held focus group-oriented meetings with staff nurses from across the state to better understand the concerns and issues facing front-line caregivers.
- He is committed to pushing for a law that provides comprehensive whistleblower protections to assure that health care workers in all settings are able to report work conditions and incidents without retaliation. Kerry also supports making whistleblower protections a condition for health care providers who want to participate in Medicare or Medicaid.
- Recognizing that nursing is one of the most dangerous professions and that injuries to nurses are on the rise, Kerry believes we need to step up enforcement action and begin to prosecute willful violators of health and safety rules. He is committed to stepping up OSHA inspections, ordering the Justice Department to vigorously prosecute the worst violators and reinstating the standards for ergonomics that the Bush Administration eliminated.
- Finally, Kerry believes the freedom of workers to form unions and bargain collectively is a fundamental right and strongly supports labor law reforms to assure that nurses have the right to organize a union. He supports a card check and neutrality system as the most fair and equitable way for employees to establish their desire to form a union and for employers to recognize the union and begin negotiations.
"As an organization of front-line nurses who spend their working lives caring for vulnerable patients, the MNA believes that John Kerry’s record and his positions on health care issues show that our ability to care for the sick and vulnerable would be greatly enhanced were he in the White House guiding our national health care policy."