Dramatic and, to some, offensive, tactics are nothing new for this California union of about 100,000 registered nurses, which has made a name for itself in the state and nationally as a progressive and aggressive political powerhouse.
This article first appeared July 11, 2017 on Kaiser Health News.
To some, the California Nurses Association’s political tactics in pushing for a single-payer health system seemed a bit, well, extreme.
Never mind the raucous demonstrations it brought to the state Capitol in recent weeks, the “shame on you” chants in the hallways, the repeated unfurling of banners in the rotunda despite admonitions from law enforcement.
To further the nurses’ cause, the union’s executive director, RoseAnn DeMoro, tweeted out a picture of the iconic California grizzly bear being stabbed in the back with a knife emblazoned with the name of a powerful state lawmaker who stalled the single-payer bill sponsored by the union.
Before and after that tweet, the legislator — a Democrat — said he was besieged by death threats.
Meanwhile, the union’s public relations guy blasted a blogger for Mother Jones magazine — named after the famous union firebrand — for being insufficiently liberal in his single-payer coverage. “Maybe you can recommend the name of your magazine be changed … to Milton Friedman, which would better reflect your class sympathies,” communications director Chuck Idelson wrote acidly.
Dramatic and, to some, offensive, tactics are nothing new for this California union of about 100,000 registered nurses, which has made a name for itself in the state and nationally as a progressive and aggressive political powerhouse. Its reach has only broadened with the advent of social media. Leader DeMoro counts more than 29,000 Twitter followers, and CNA’s operation has a knack for mobilizing protesters and drawing crowds.
“The politicians are afraid of these angry intense grass-roots activists” mobilized by the union, said Mike Madrid, a Republican and principal at the public affairs firm Grassroots Lab, who believes the tactics could backfire. “Using fear and intimidation as a tactic in the legislature usually doesn’t get you too far.”
Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.