Almanac

News - July 21, 2010

Nurses union stages protest in Atherton

by Georgia Wells

A noisy but respectful crowd of protestors, organized by the California Nurses Association, filled the street in front of the Atherton home of Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman on Thursday afternoon, July 15.

Many of the hundreds of protestors carried signs reading "Nurses say no to Whitman," and some chanted: "You take on one of us? Then you'll take on all of us."

The nurses union has accused Ms. Whitman of union-busting tactics and plans to cut thousands of state jobs.

The Whitman for governor campaign issued a statement that quoted retired nurse Alice Hansen, who it said has joined a new Nurses for Meg Whitman coalition: "The radical leadership of this union does not represents the vast majority of California nurses. ... According to reputable polling numbers, 40 percent of all nurses in California support Meg Whitman for Governor. ..."

The statement said Ms. Whitman supports nurse staffing ratios and has a plan to address the state's nursing shortages.

At the time of the demonstration, Ms. Whitman was at a campaign event in Ontario, California, her campaign said.

At the Atherton protest, a small number of people lined the street, some holding signs that read "Firefighter families for Jerry Brown." (Mr. Brown is the Democratic candidate opposing Ms. Whitman in the governor's race.) Several older people in wheelchairs cheered and shook plastic bottles filled with coins.

An actress playing "Queen Meg" said, "Meg Whitman is not our friend. She can't be trusted. She wants to cut the pensions of nurses." The crowd booed.

"As nurses, we are having a hard enough time as it is," said Pier Blandon, who said she has been a nurse at Kaiser hospital for 28 years. "A lot of us are getting burnt out, which is affecting patient care. We have patients that haven't fully recovered, and are being pushed out of the hospital before they should be."

There were no arrests or confrontations with police, California Highway Patrol Officer Jeff Egeline said.

The protest lasted about 30 minutes. By 1:45 p.m., the well-organized crowd was boarding buses back to Canada College in Woodside, where they planned to hear speeches on nursing issues.

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