Rose Ann DeMoro

The Health Care Hydra

guest post by Ludlow

I've been a critical care nurse for 12 years. I rarely find out about the costs my patients incur as they get care in my unit, though occasionally I hear figures. One gentleman, who had open heart surgery to fix one of his heart valves had to come back 3 months later for a re-do. His wife told me that they had just received the bills that added up to almost $200,000. That was about 8 years ago.

Not long ago I learned that the charge per day in intensive care units like mine was now $11,000. Not unrelated to that fact, just the other day, one of our patients who was a 'self pay' (read 'no insurance') was quickly and quietly packed up and transferred to the county hospital for the remainder of her critical care stay which was going to be several days.

Voting on Labor: The New Company Store

by cho and rba

Fresh off the nasty battle with Labor Notes Conference attendees in Michigan last month, SEIU leader Andy Stern may meet new opposition from yet another group, this time an internal challenge, at the May 31st through June 4th SEIU national convention in Puerto Rico.

Ultimately, the controversies seem to be this: Stern believes that the only way to build negotiating power that benefits laborers is to build the union membership and make deals with the employers. CNA, United Healthcare Workers--West, and some of the housekeeping and service locals see such deals as ultimately bad for workers in the long run.

In Puerto Rico next week, the SEIU faces the powerful California local United Healthcare Workers West, led by Sal Rosselli, which is wary of losing its local control. They intend to challenge Stern with resolutions to limit the expansion the national staff's power. Nelson Lichtenstein, in a recent Los Angeles Times article, reports Rosselli as saying: "I want a movement of workers governed by workers for workers to be in control of their relationship with their employer, to be in control of the political direction of their union." Lichtenstein suggests that "the very meaning of unionism will be bleached out of the SEIU unless local voices are once again made potent."