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8,000 Nurses and Caregivers Prepare to Strike for Fair Wages in Seattle While CEO Gets 157% Pay Increase

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File this one under: absolutely not okay.

Nurses and caregivers have announced that they are moving closer toward an imminent strike at Swedish Medical Center, the largest healthcare provider in the Seattle area, saying that Providence needs to put patient safety before CEO pay.

Nurses and caregivers are raising alarms that patient care problems and severe understaffing have worsened since Swedish was taken over by the corporate giant Providence, Washington’s largest healthcare corporation which now controls over 1,000 facilities in seven states. Meanwhile, compensation for Providence’s CEO skyrocketed 157 percent to over $10.5 million in 2017. Providence raked in $24 billion in revenue in 2018, and $970 million in profits in just the first three quarters of 2019.

Supermajorities of caregivers have authorized strikes at each of the seven Swedish locations – First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds, Issaquah and ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek – but management refused to make meaningful progress at the last contract negotiations on December 9.

If the strike occurs, members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at Swedish would be part of more than 13,000 total strikers at 13 Providence locations throughout the state, including members of UFCW 21 and the Washington State Nurses Association. This would be the largest healthcare strike in recent history.

Since April, Swedish-Providence nurses, nursing assistants, techs, lab workers, dietary workers, environmental service workers, clerks, social workers, and others have been proposing urgent solutions to Swedish-Providence executives. Contract proposals include: safe nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, affordable health benefits, expanded training opportunities, safeguards against racial discrimination on the job, and fair wages that recruit and retain qualified staff.

Executives have rejected almost all proposals, instead threatening steep cuts to caregivers’ sick time and repeatedly breaking federal labor law by violating caregivers’ rights.

“Being an emergency room nurse is very stressful, but I do this work because I love my patients and feel like I make a real difference in their lives,” said Whittney Powers, who works the 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift at Swedish Edmonds. “I’ve been alarmed to see a steep decline is staffing levels throughout our hospital and nurses are overextended. The safe staffing standard in emergency rooms is one nurse for every four patients, which should be followed at all times. But we are often required to care for five or six patients at a time, many of whom can be in severe distress.”

Powers added, “We often hear complaints from patients that they have to wait a long time for care or can’t get their pain medication in a timely manner. Because they’re also understaffed on the hospital floors, some patients have to stay for days in the emergency room hallways. One of the reasons we’re understaffed is that there’s been a mass exodus of employees because our wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. I pay $1,750 for a studio apartment in Seattle and struggle to make the rent. It’s frustrating that Swedish-Providence has the funds to improve patient safety and staffing, but instead they’re being misappropriated to huge executive pay packages. That makes us feel like patients and staff aren’t valued at Swedish.”

Multiple studies have proven that unsafe staffing levels in hospitals can lead to lower quality care and patient harm, including falls, medication errors and increased deaths. Recently, the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings found that, in the Swedish First Hill Organ Transplant department, “The employer’s failure to respond to the severe staffing shortages and manager hostility and retaliation, all of which jeopardized patient health and staff health, shows a complete disregard for patient care and safety as well as a complete lack of regard for their own employees.”

In one example of worsening understaffing, 11,416 babies were born at Swedish in 2018, 2,000 more than in 2015. Yet, there are only three additional registered nurses in the labor and delivery department. In another example, Swedish had 1,571 patient beds in 2018, 145 more than in 2015. Despite this, Swedish only has one additional environmental service worker to clean and disinfect patient rooms.

“Sometimes environmental service techs can have 26 rooms to clean in an eight-hour shift, and this kind of pressure can lead to dirty rooms and the danger of infection being spread to patients,” said Angel Sherbourne, a certified healthcare environmental service technician who has worked at Swedish First Hill for over five years. “If we don’t have enough staffing, patient rooms can’t be cleaned and sanitized correctly, and workers get burned out, sick and injured. On top of that, we can’t afford to live in the communities where we work. My husband and I have been renting a small room for $850 a month, and struggling to buy a decent house that isn’t falling apart.”

In 2017, the neurosurgery department at Swedish Cherry Hill had a patient safety scandal severe enough to warrant concurrent FBI, U.S. Attorney General, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Washington state Department of Health investigations. Despite Swedish-Providence’s public declaration to solve the crisis, management has since cut staff, including the system-wide elimination of the IV nurse team. It appears that the fundamental cause of the scandal, a focus on increasing profits instead of patient safety, is still infecting the corporate culture at Swedish-Providence.

Approximately 1,000 healthcare workers a year leave Swedish-Providence and there are currently about 900 vacant staff positions. 600 of those positions are registered nurses, and 50 percent of open positions have gone unfilled for 60 days or longer. One of the reasons that Swedish-Providence has difficulty with recruitment and retention is that wages for frontline workers are not keeping up with the soaring cost of living.

Swedish-Providence pays almost 40 percent of its employees below the salary necessary to afford the average one-bedroom apartment in the Seattle area.

Providence management has also broken federal labor law multiple times with unfair labor practices including: retaliating against and terminating employees for union activity; unlawfully surveilling employees; intimidating workers to stop them from speaking out; refusing to provide information necessary to bargain a fair contract; and refusing to bargain in good faith.

The next contract bargaining session with Swedish-Providence management is scheduled for December 30, and if executives do not make significant progress toward improving patient safety and staffing, caregivers say they will set the exact date of their strike shortly thereafter.

“I’ve been a Swedish nurse for 31 years, and I’ve stayed here this long because I’m deeply committed to fulfilling our stated mission of providing excellent patient care,” said Terry Thompson, who works in Swedish Ballard’s perioperative department. “But it’s close to impossible to offer the care our vulnerable patients need because we’re always rushing. Many new nurses go home crying because they feel they could have done better if they had a more manageable patient load. Decisions are being made by executives in corporate offices miles away, who rarely step foot in our hospital. Nurses and healthcare workers are here at the bedside and we must have a voice in setting safe staffing levels. These millionaire Providence executives need to look within and ask themselves if they’re going to do what’s right to protect patient care.”

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New Bombshell Book on Trump Reveals He Wanted to Be Treated Like Hitler: ‘Totally Loyal’

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Two of the country’s best journalists have published reporting from their new book about Donald Trump that includes huge bombshells, including that as president he compared himself to Hitler, in a positive way for both men. Trump, essentially, imagined himself as Hitler, and wanted his generals to display unflinching, unquestioning loyalty.

“Trump’s love affair with ‘my generals’ was brief, and in a statement for this article the former President confirmed how much he had soured on them over time,” The New Yorker’s Susan B. Glasser and The New York Times’ Peter Baker write at The New Yorker, in an piece titled, “Inside the War Between Trump and His Generals.”

“These were very untalented people and once I realized it, I did not rely on them, I relied on the real generals and admirals within the system,” Trump wrote to them.

READ MORE: ‘Clear and Present Danger’: Conservative Former Judge Testifies Donald Trump and Allies Are Threat to Democracy (Video)

“It turned out that the generals had rules, standards, and expertise, not blind loyalty. The President’s loud complaint to John Kelly one day was typical: ‘You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?'” Glasser and Baker reveal.

“Which generals?” Kelly asked.

“The German generals in World War II,” Trump responded.

“You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly said.

“But, of course, Trump did not know that. ‘No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,’ the President replied.”

That’s just one bombshell.

The article is drawn on reporting from their upcoming book, “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021.”

Glasser and Baker obtained a resignation letter Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley wrote to Trump after the Lafayette Square Bible photo-op incident.

“The events of the last couple weeks have caused me to do deep soul-searching, and I can no longer faithfully support and execute your orders,” Milley wrote. “It is my belief that you were doing great and irreparable harm to my country.”

Milley, in the letter he ultimately did not give Trump, accused him of “using the military to create fear in the minds of the people,” saying “we are trying to protect the American people. I cannot stand idly by and participate in that attack, verbally or otherwise, on the American people.”

“I swore an oath to the Constitution of the United States and embodied within that Constitution is the idea that says that all men and women are created equal,” the letter also says. “All men and women are created equal, no matter who you are, whether you are white or Black, Asian, Indian, no matter the color of your skin, no matter if you’re gay, straight or something in between.”

“We’re all Americans. That under these colors of red, white, and blue—the colors that my parents fought for in World War II—means something around the world. It’s obvious to me that you don’t think of those colors the same way I do. It’s obvious to me that you don’t hold those values dear and the cause that I serve.”

He also wrote: “it is my deeply held belief that you’re ruining the international order, and causing significant damage to our country overseas, that was fought for so hard by the Greatest Generation that they instituted in 1945.”

Read the entire article here.

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Less Than Half of Florida Voters Would Choose ‘Polarizing’ DeSantis New Poll Finds

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Ron DeSantis is facing much more challenging odds of winning re-election than some would assume as a just-released poll finds less than half of Floridians would vote for their Republican governor.

The poll, released by Florida progressive groups but more heavily weighted toward a GOP electorate finds just 48 percent of all registered voters would vote for DeSantis, and 43 percent would choose the Democratic nominee, Florida Politics reports. The Democratic gubernatorial primary is August 23, between U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, their former governor, and Nikki Fried, the current commissioner of agriculture.

“About 2,244 registered Florida voters [were] weighted to reflect a midterm electorate favorable to Republicans. Respondents were surveyed between July 26 and 31.” The poll was released by by Progress Florida and Florida Watch.

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law Goes Into Effect as Schools Scramble to Avoid Parental Lawsuits

DeSantis is viewed favorably by 50% of voters, but unfavorably by 48%.

“Given his financial advantage DeSantis remains a favorite to win re-election, but his polarizing nature could put a ceiling on his support,” a memo from pollsters Geoff Puryear and Annika Ramnath reads.

Given DeSantis’ nearly-daily press conferences, often surrounded by children or law enforcement, many forget he won his gubernatorial election in an extremely tight race, by 32,463 votes, a margin of just 0.4%.

READ MORE: ‘Combative’ Press Secretary for Ron DeSantis Registers as Foreign Agent After DOJ Inquiry: Report

To beat DeSantis the Democratic candidate would need to overcome the poll’s five-point spread, meaning securing more than half of the nine percent of undecideds or pulling several points away from DeSantis, or greatly increasing Democratic voter turnout. Back in April DeSantis decried Democrats moving to Florida, calling it “a problem” because “they would continue to vote the same way.”

The polling memo notes that 65% of Florida voters “prefer the Democratic message” on abortion.

“Democrats in Florida need to make sure that as surely as abortion rights were on the ballot in Kansas…abortion rights are on the ballot this fall, and that voters know that Marci Rubio, Ron DeSantis, and legislative Republicans support extreme abortion bans, even for victims of rape and incest,” the pollsters’ memo adds.

DeSantis has doubled down on many of his highly controversial moves, including signing into law the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which made nationwide news for months. He reversed a 50-year law that effectively granted Disney World the ability to assume most governmental operations for its district, as a punishment for the company, a huge employer in the Sunshine State, speaking out in opposition to the anti-LGBTQ law.

Authoritarianism exert Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University, in June told Insider DeSantis is “a very dangerous individual” because “he is equally repressive, but doesn’t have the baggage of Trump.”

 

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Legal Expert Explains How Alex Jones’ Texts Could ‘Connect the Dots’ on Trump for the Jan. 6 Committee

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Appearing on CNN early Saturday morning, former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore stated that the history of texts accidentally released by attorneys representing Alex Jones may fill in the gaps for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Speaking with “New Day” host Phil Mattingly, the legal analyst was asked about reports that the texts may be headed to House investigators, with the CNN host stating, “We saw a dramatic moment in the courtroom, in the Alex Jones proceedings over the course of the last several days. He was informed that his defense team accidentally sent two years of his text records to him.”

“There are connections and overlap with what the January 6 committee is working on when it comes to that. There are discussions of the committee perhaps getting ahold of those,” he continued before asking, “What is the process? Do you see that as a potential thing that can occur?”

“The text messages and the phone records, at least in some part are now in a court record, they’ve been filed in court. That makes them a little bit easier to get,” Moore replied. “The concern I have is the issue of the phone was delivered in all accounts, it may have been delivered in error but they did nothing to correct that or fix that or file a protective order on the evidence. So that information may be subject to a challenge.”

READ: Eric Holder predicts how Donald Trump will be indicted

“The problem for Jones is that information is now known and it’s out there,” he continued. “It’s clear there was deceptive testimony during the course of discovery and I think that makes them a little easier to get.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see these subpoenas come down for the information on the phones and ultimately at the end of the day they will get it,” he elaborated. “It will be used to see if this connects any of the dots that the committee has been trying to do for the last many months. Is there a direction from Trump, is there some direction from other people in Jones’ circle that we find in the text messages there.”

Watch below or at this link.

 

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