UPDATED: NYSNA joins fight to turn on Detroit water

UPDATE from the campaign to stop Detroit water shutoffs: a judge has ordered a 15 day moratorium on shutoffs! We need to keep building our movement -- coast-to-coast -- to stop the attack on our patients and our communities. We're proud to stand with Michigan nurses to stop the shutoffs.

What would happen to our patients if they suddenly lost their access to water? That nightmare scenario is becoming reality in Detroit, where an appointee of the anti-union governor has started shutting off the water for more than 100,000 Detroit people.

Under the rule of an unelected Emergency Manager, the city has been systematically turning off taps for those who are behind on even the smallest water bills. Families are being separated as parents send their kids out of the city. These shut-offs could be the first step in privatizing the city’s public water services—a gift to the same Wall Street interests that threw Detroit into bankruptcy. For Detroiters, it’s a full-blown healthcare emergency.

Detroiters are speaking up against this outrage. And NYSNA nurses joined them last week at a massive rally.

Patricia King, an RN from Kings County Hospital, was one of the NYSNA nurses who made the trip. “This is a healthcare issue. If there’s not clear, our healthcare system is compromised,” she said. “We’re here to support the people of Detroit to make sure that they get good clean running water back for them.”

After filling the streets of downtown Detroit with chants of “Who’s water? Our water!” and “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!” we assembled at Hart Plaza on the Lake Michigan waterfront.

“We live in the Great Lakes—everywhere around us is water,” said Detroit activist Maureen Taylor. “Tomorrow and the next day, when they get ready to come to our homes to take it from us, we’re still going to be here!”

Movement wins moratorium on shut-offs

NYSNA joined nurses from National Nurses United and even Canada for the mobilization. John Armelagos, RN and President of the Michigan Nurses Association, thanked us for our support: “Let’s transform this crisis of shutting off the water into a golden opportunity to meet the needs of the people.”

On Monday, July 21, the city responded to the power of our movement, announcing a 15-day moratorium on further shut-offs.

“This is what our union does,” said Patricia Morris, RN at HHC’s Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. “Not only to speak on behalf of wages and work, but to speak on behalf of humans. We came here today to say, this is what the people need.”

“What I see is that we all need each other,” added Lesline Brown-Hazel, RN, East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center. “We have to unite. This could be us. It could be anybody.”

Click here to see photos from the NYSNA delegation to Detroit.

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