National Nurses United Protests NATO, Shuts Out Non-Approved Reporters

As part of the week of protests against NATO in Chicago, the National Nurses United union staged its own demonstration in Daley Plaza, centered around a message of wealth redistribution and class warfare. Their protest was part of a series of non-NATO related get-togethers that placed nurses with socialists, anarchists, Occupiers, anti-police activists, and, lastly, the anti-NATO protesters.

The nurses’ protest targeted the banking sector, promoting a financial transactions tax, also known as a "Robin Hood Tax." And while the union leaders and nurses chanted “tax the rich” loudly and proudly, they weren’t quite as candid about their beliefs in post-protest interviews. In fact, National Nurses United leadership went out of its way to prevent its membership from speaking with Breitbart News.

At the beginning of the demonstration, nurses packed the plaza donning their red NNU shirts and green Robin Hood hats. Their placards, as usual, demanded healthcare for all and taxes on the rich. The rally began with a skit where actors portrayed world leaders associated with the financial crisis, highlighting their ties to mega-corporations that the union leadership blames for the current economic problems, driven by greed and corruption.

Following the skit, speakers took to the stage to condemn bankers and the so-called One Percent. Elce Redmond of Jobs with Justice, an organization devoted to attacking the Chicago Mercantile Exchange/Board of Trade, spoke adamantly on stage in favor of a financial transactions tax while asking the nurses to join in the attack against the two exchanges. Jobs with Justice has been working diligently at rallies, protests, and educational forums to spread their message to educators, nurses, and other unions to support this tax. They were also recently honored at the Democratic Socialists of America Awards Dinner in Chicago, covered exclusively by Breitbart News. Redmond was joined by other left-wing radicals such as Tim Carpenter, the national director of the Progressive Democrats of America, and John Nichols, a writer from left-wing publications The Nation, The Progressive, and the Capital Times of Wisconsin.

The financial transaction tax they are pushing is $1 per futures contract traded at the Chicago exchanges. They push this by informing the public that the contracts value can be up to $250,000 and $1 is a miniscule amount to ask for, without ever taking into consideration how the financial markets actually work and never informing them that the value of the contract they are talking about is the value upon delivery of the commodity traded and completely different than the actual value of each trade. Similar taxes are being pushed now around the world as an international financial transactions tax by Public Services International union. A representative of PSI, as they are known, recently promoted this tax at a union hall meeting in Milwaukee, WI, while claiming to play a major roll in the revolutions going on across northern Africa and the Middle East simultaneously with the uprising in Wisconsin.

Following the speeches, I attempted to find out more about the nurses’ opinions on new taxes on the financial industry. However, I was met with derision, rudeness, and refusal to answer any questions. I was even assaulted by the National Nurses’s communications director. After asking him to explain why they would not conduct interviews with Breitbart News, he grabbed my camera, holding his hand over the lens.

After attempting to conduct several interviews, I discovered National Nurses United had actually gone to lengths to preclude their members from speaking with any “unapproved media” outlets by instructing them to only speak with media that was wearing a wristband supplied by the union.  

I asked to speak with the person in charge of media relations in order to get permission to conduct interviews about the financial transactions tax, but when I informed her I was with Breitbart, she said, “He’s really messed with us before.” I’m not sure what she was referring to; nevertheless, after her refusal to cooperate, I attempted to interview members of the union who would consent to interviews. It was then that another woman from the nurses union in a Robin Hood hat began instructing members not to speak to me.

This caused me to alter the focus of my interviews; I began to ask why was I being singled out as media that the nurses weren’t allowed to talk to. I asked one man just prior to again being interrupted by the woman in the Robin Hood hat how he felt about being told by the union leadership who he can and can’t talk to, and upon her interrupting yet again, he told her he knew who I was and he was going to continue talking to me. He said, “I’m an American, and I can talk to who I want to, you can take my words good or bad, the bottom line is that we feel like that people who contribute to this country should get something back.”

I was again interrupted by the first media contact I spoke with; this time, she informed me that there was a misunderstanding and I could talk to whoever I wanted to. Yet after this communication I was still being followed and harassed by members of their leadership. After another woman indicated she would not speak with me because I wasn’t wearing a wristband, I attempted to find out who was in charge.

A union member whispered at me and pointed to Chuck Idelson, the director of communications for National Nurses United. I waited patiently while two students of the Medill Journalism School at Northwestern University interviewed him. Oddly, they did not have any wristbands either, but this didn’t stop him from speaking to them. After they concluded their interview, I attempted to ask him about the wristbands and instructing the nurses not to speak to anyone without them. After telling him I worked with Breitbart, he said he wouldn’t talk to me. He explained, “you guys are dishonest, you generally come here and misrepresent who you are, we have no interest in talking to people who a record of fundamental dishonesty as you have.” It was then he grabbed my camera and covered up the lens; after asking why he was touching my property, he let go, turned around, and ignored my further questions.

It is interesting to see such a tactic being employed by the nurses union. What were they so afraid of “unapproved media” discovering that they needed wristbands for their members to safely identify who they could and couldn’t talk to? Could it be that they know their membership doesn’t have a clue how a financial transaction tax would work? Were they afraid their membership might be exposed as ignorant to the real cause of the union leadership, the motives of Jobs with Justice and the Progressive Democrats of America, or were they really just afraid that I would misrepresent what they said and that I would use their words against them with fundamental dishonesty? I challenge anyone of them to dispute any claim made in this article, find one piece that is fundamentally dishonest, and make one claim that I once misrepresented whom I was.

Usually when people are up to no good, you can read it on their forehead; you can see it in their eyes and hear the lies in their voices. The leadership of the nurses union is no different. They can try to hide behind a sympathizing mainstream media; they can stop their members from talking to Breitbart; but they are going to have to hide behind more than wristbands if they want to succeed in covering up the content of their message.

Watch the video and decide for yourself.


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