No More Worker Sacrifice

Laura Jedeed
5 min readOct 5, 2023

Unions are Rising Up. It’s About Time

Image by Daniel Roberts from Pixabay

“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders — What would you tell him?”

I…don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?”

To shrug.”
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Relax. This isn’t an Objectivist article.

Yesterday, Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers in California, Colorado, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington walked out of their hospitals and began a three-day strike. This is a shot across the bow: the largest union involved in the strike has threatened a “longer, stronger” strike in November if their demands aren’t met.

Here are their demands:

  • A $25 hourly minimum wage
  • Wage increases of 7 percent for the next two years, and and 6.25 percent each year afterwards. Please keep in mind that inflation was 8.3 percent in 2022
  • Fully staffing hospitals, instead of chronically understaffing and running workers ragged to save money

$25 per hour for the (literal!) shit nurses deal with every day is criminally low. These are the people who risked their lives throughout the COVID pandemic. Many of them died. These are the people we trust to care for us when we are at our most vulnerable, people whose actions can determine whether we live or die. How little do we value our own lives that we would stand by and allow them to make only $25 per hour?

But Kaiser Permanente is not paying them $25 per hour. They are, apparently, paying some of them less than that.

If you’ve dealt with the healthcare system, you’ve probably dealt with at least one nurse from hell, and you’ve probably dealt with a lot more nurses that range from competent to saintly. Most people get into nursing and other medical specialties because they want to help people. Hospitals have been using this desire against healthcare workers for years.

They hospitals have gone too far this time, though. Part of the reason for this…

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Laura Jedeed

Freelance journalist, filthy pleb. Politics mostly. Find my work at NYMag, Politico, Rolling Stone, New Republic, and Substack: https://laurajedeed.substack.com