Belabored Podcast #178: A Nurse’s Prescription for Fixing Healthcare

Belabored Podcast #178: A Nurse’s Prescription for Fixing Healthcare

Unionized nurses are campaigning for sweeping changes to the healthcare system, including Medicare for All and safe staffing levels in hospitals.

National Nurses United nurses lobby for Medicare for All in Washington, D.C. in April (Jaclyn Higgs, National Nurses United / Flickr)
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We hear a lot from politicians, doctors, hospitals, and insurers about how to fix the healthcare system—the same crowd that brought us our current disaster of exorbitant prices and overcrowded emergency rooms. But the people who actually deliver the bulk of everyday healthcare services are often overlooked in the politics of medicine: nurses. Unionized nurses are campaigning for sweeping changes to the healthcare system, including a national single-payer plan and safe staffing levels in hospitals. We talked to Cokie Giles of National Nurses United and Linda Aiken of University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing about how nurses see the current so-called “nursing shortage” and how to fix the system for good.

In other news, Chris Brooks of Labor Notes dissects the latest debacle for United Auto Workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant; union lawyer Tamir Rosenblum dives into the National Labor Relations Board’s war on Scabby the Rat and what it means for workers’ free-speech rights; Saba Waheed of UCLA Labor Center breaks down California’s bill to upgrade the gig economy; and we look at the digital media labor battles at Vox and Buzzfeed. With recommended reading on Youngstown’s overlooked black community, and why not a one-day work week?

This week’s show was supported by our monthly sustaining members. If you think our work is worth supporting as we soldier on through Trumplandia, please consider becoming a member today. If you’re interested in advertising on the show, please email And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or tips, email us at


Why the UAW Lost Another Election in Tennessee (The Nation)

Why the UAW Lost Again in Chattanooga (Labor Notes)

Uber and Lyft Really Don’t Want California to Pass This Worker Rights Bill (CityLab)

Michelle: Can New York Rein in Uber? (The Nation)

Sarah: The Labor Movement Comes to Virtual Reality: Unionizing Digital Media (Truthout)

BuzzFeed journalists just walked off the job in 4 cities. Here’s why. (Vox)

Vox Media Employees Walk Out On Final Day Of Union Bargaining (Huffington Post)

Deflate the Rat? Labor Board Asks Court to Stop Union Protest (Bloomberg Law)


Linda Aiken, Director, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Cokie Giles, Vice President of National Nurses United

National Nurses United Medicare for All Campaign  

Michelle: More Nurses Means Better Care—So Why Did This Ballot Measure Fail? (The Nation)

Nurses Have a Prescription for the Democratic Party: Back Single Payer (The Nation)

Sarah with Mari Cordes: Emboldened Fight for Health Care as a Right (The Baffler)

Linda Aiken, et al, Implications of the California Nurse Staffing Mandate for Other States (Health Services Research)


Sarah: Nicola Davis, Just one day of work a week improves mental health, study suggests (Guardian)

Michelle: Henry Grabar, The Nonwhite Working Class (Slate)