On the night of Labor Day, 25 nurses at UAB Hospital, a medical research institute and hospital that is owned by the University of Alabama in Birmingham, refused to clock in for their shift in the ER. The nurses had become overworked, stressed and ultimately tired of conditions within the hospital that leave them exposed to the COVID-19 surge that is happening all across Alabama.
The nurses at UAB are underpaid compared to their peers nationally. Nurses in Alabama only make $60,000 a year, whereas the national average is $80,000. Many nurses within the state quit to become travel nurses and make more money across state lines. UAB nurses had reached out to their managers to ask for better compensation, but their pleas went unheard so they decided to take this issue into their own hands and make a statement by refusing to clock in.
The UAB nurses are also concerned about being understaffed. They are running at maximum capacity and do not have enough help to comfortably see all patients within the hospital. With COVID-19 surging and ICU beds full, the demand for care has increased and the nurses can only do so much. They demand that the institute implement measures that will rectify this and other grievances so that they can all continue giving patients the care they need.
The nurses demonstrating wanted it to be known that they have support from the rest of the nurses employed by UAB and that they are fighting for equal pay for everyone. They stated that no patients were going without care inside the hospital as the day shift had stayed to care for patients while the night nurses held their demonstration.
All across the nation nurses have been on the frontline fighting COVID-19 as it resurges amongst the population. Over 3,000 healthcare workers have died due to the abysmal handling of the pandemic by the state; this number will continue to increase if the pandemic continues to be mishandled.
Throughout this pandemic the capitalist government has left the working class to fend for itself while they figure out ways to successfully accumulate money from the misery that has been brought by COVID-19. Governor Kay Ivey met with legislative leaders in June to discuss how they could possibly use some of $4 billion received from the American Rescue Plan to fund the construction of new prisons while the people on the front line fighting the epidemic continue to suffer and lose their lives.
If it were not for nurses and hospital workers, the results of the pandemic would be even worse, but there is no appreciation from the corporations or the state for the sacrifices hospital workers have made to care for the ill and dying. There is already a shortage of nurses and with the terrible management of the pandemic still ongoing this will likely increase. It is imperative that we support hospital workers fighting for better working conditions and compensation for their bravery.