Nurses strike, gives bosses a taste of workers medicine
Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 11:02AM

CHICAGO, November 16—Over 30 Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) from the University of Illinois Hospital (UIH) officially went on strike yesterday, and have backed it up with pickets and open confrontations against their racist and sexist bosses. The LPNs are striking over stalled contract negotiations, disrespect from the bosses on the job, and an overall decreasing stability for their profession.
A comrade from Progressive Labor Party (PLP) was present at the picket today to push the politics even further to the left, calling for mass multi-racial working class unity as the strongest weapon we have to take the offensive against the capitalist bosses and their profit system.
Multi-racial women LPNs challenge bosses
When the strike began, the nurses were out in force. They held their largest picket on the lawn directly across the street from the front entrance of the hospital, complete with signs, chants, and bullhorns. At the various clinics connected to the main hospital throughout the city, there were smaller pickets in solidarity forcing the clinics to close down early. The make-up of these actions was multi-racial, led mostly by Black and Latin women, who are by and large the majority of as LPNs.
In addition to the pickets, a group of the nurses and other workers marched to a meeting on campus of the hospital executives, where they demanded that they be allowed to speak directly to UIH CEO Michael Zenn and the other bosses about contract negotiations. The majority of them were met with rude insults from the racist and sexist bosses and denied a chance to participate, with the excuse that they were being “disruptive” and that there wasn’t enough space in the boardroom.
Another short picket took place the following day, again on the lawn in front of the hospital. A number of the chants focused on the “second-class” status of LPNs as compared to registered nurses (RNs) and the racist and sexist character of the bosses’ disregard of their contributions to patient care. A number of UIH LPNs gave personal testimony on the bullhorn about their key role in improving the health of their working-class patients and the need to continue fighting back.
A comrade from PLP, who works in another local hospital, took the mic to express solidarity, emphasizing the need for workers to unite across workplaces under capitalism as the only real way to begin building our power in the face of the bosses’ attacks.
Don’t fall for bosses’ traps.
Reject union misleaders, elitism
Although this comrade was applauded for this statement, the reality is that the state of working-class struggle is a long way from taking any kind of legitimate offensive against the capitalists and their system. A large reason for this is an over-reliance on the role of unions under capitalism.More often than not they follow a toothless legalist strategy to try and enforce a contract, or even worse, direct workers down the path of dead-end electoral politics to put another one of the bosses’ tools in power.
Many of unions’“militant” actions are nothing more than publicity stunts that try to deceive their members that they are taking action on their behalf. In fact they are  well-planned in advance with news media and the kkkops and therefore present no real threat to the bosses. The day two picket of this “unfair labor practice” (ULP) strike itself only lasted barely an hour before the union mis-leadership made the call to wrap it up.
Another factor working against a struggle such as this is the elitism that saturates health care under capitalism. Despite at least 1,000 UIH nurses working within this hospital system, very few of the registered nurses have demonstrated active support of the LPNs strike, even though they themselves faced off against the same racist management’s attacks just over a year ago (See CHALLENGE, 9/15/17).
Many workers can be fooled into thinking thatwage differentials, education level, and professional titles make their work more “important” than that of other workers. But this just works to hide the fact that our labor is connected and we can only fight back effectively when we organize across trades to shut down entire hospitals, schools, and other industries.
Communism connects our struggles
To fight for communist revolution and the complete destruction of racist and sexist capitalism, means understanding the contradictions that weaken working-class unity, and then taking active steps to overcome them to build internationalvworkers’ power. To this end, comrades in PLP will continue to organize within unions, in the workplace, and in the neighborhoods to win more workers to communism, a system that values the contributions of all workers and puts our needs first.
We salute to the University of Illinois LPNs!  Your work is important, and your multi-racial fightback is, too!

Article originally appeared on The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party (
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