On June 12 Teresa Schloth, a Brooklyn dialysis nurse for 32 years, walked out on her first-ever strike. She and her co-workers are battling a billion-dollar corporation that’s trying to wring greater profits out of kidney patients by skimping on staffing and shifting jobs out of the unions.
People with chronic kidney failure—the technical name is end-stage renal disease—qualify for Medicare regardless of age. Three times a week they go in for dialysis, where they spend hours hooked up to a machine that cleans their blood.
Contract time is a gift. On an ordinary day, any number of work, family, and personal concerns compete for union members’ time and energy. But when your contract is about to expire, when your wages and benefits are on the table, when there’s a chance of a strike or lockout—that’s when your union has more of its members’ attention than at any other time.
The remarkable “Day without Immigrants,” when tens of thousands walked out February 16, sprang from the grass roots with little coordination by unions or worker centers. But to their credit, many groups are now looking to build on that momentum with strikes and protests May 1.