Nurses endorse Sanders for president

One group endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders and campaigning for him in Iowa is National Nurses United, the largest nurses union in the United States.

During the days leading up to the caucus, this organization worked to increase Sanders’ support and get voters to caucus for him Monday night.

Chuck Idelson, NNU communication director, says he considers Sanders’ virtual tie with Hillary Clinton in Iowa a success. Idelson says Sanders won the vote of people under age 30, independent voters and people who make less than $50,000 a year.

“I would consider that a smashing victory,” Idelson says.

Now the candidates have moved on to New Hampshire for Tuesday’s primary, and Idelson says members of NNU also are campaigning for Sanders there. Idelson says he is confident Sanders will do well in New Hampshire.

Jean Ross, co-president of NNU, says this organization is the first national union to endorse Sanders for president. The union agrees with Sanders that healthcare should be affordable for all and prescription drug prices should be lowered, according to a NNU leaflet.

“We believe in anything that supports our values,” Ross says. “We say our values are caring, compassion and community. Bernie Sanders typifies those values, and he typifies it in his platform. We have long been supporters of a single-payer plan, which we call ‘Medicare For All.’ He has a way to pay for it, so he’s very pragmatic that way.”

NNU also supports Sanders on issues including slowing climate change, restoring America’s infrastructure, creating jobs and making college tuition free, according to the leaflet. While these issues might not seem to relate specifically to this organization, Ross says nurses have seen an increased number of patients with problems such as asthma, gut disorders and psychological problems, all of which she partially attributes to poor environmental quality and stress because of educational costs and a lack of jobs.

Ross says some members of this organization came to Iowa from across the country to campaign for Sanders. She says these efforts include phone banking, canvassing and meeting with groups of students, teachers, farmers, nuns and more.

“We are meeting with groups that have the same types of values and the same reasons for supporting Bernie Sanders,” Ross says. “One of those is the man’s authenticity. He doesn’t waver. Everything he stands for has a moral component, and for us nurses, that’s really big.”