Nurses’ RoseAnn DeMoro zeroes in

RoseAnn DeMoro of the California Nurses ASssociation and National Nurses United, speaks to reporters outside Gov. Brown's office.(File Photo, 2014: AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

Amid an increasingly partisan and uncertain political climate, RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, isn’t afraid to call out politicians on both sides of the aisle.

“We’re doing the exact opposite agenda of the Democrats who are just about Trump,” says DeMoro, a Democrat.

“What we’ve been up to is trying to change the landscape in the United States for more progressive politics and people to win an election.” The Democratic Party, she has said, “is in absolute crisis and denial.”

She was the first woman to work as an organizer for the Western Conference of Teamsters.

In addition to overseeing the 185,000 member nurse’s union – the largest of its kind in the country – DeMoro, who came up through the ranks as a union organizer, also serves as national vice president of the AFL-CIO, whose organizations have generally aligned with the Democratic Party’s goals.

But today, DeMoro said, the Democrats are veering toward the center right and ignoring the concerns of their own base.

Indeed, DeMoro is primarily concerned with the state of health care – both at a national level, and in California. So she was outraged when Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat, refused to allow the single-payer health care bill, AB 562, to be heard in the Assembly. Backed by Democrats, the measure had emerged from the Senate, but Rendon blocked it from the lower house on June 23, calling it “woefully incomplete.”

(Illustration: California Nurses Association)

DeMoro was not pleased, and fumed at Rendon and his allies who called his move “courageous.”

She called Rendon’s act “cowardly,” and said on Twitter, “Not having access to health care is a death sentence for many.” DeMoro’s followers circulated a vivid image of a California grizzly stabbed in the back. On the blade was written “Rendon.”

DeMoro, who is accustomed to fights, has a degree in women’s studies from Southern Illinois University. She was the first woman to work as an organizer for the Western Conference of Teamsters. She later organized for the American Federation of Teachers and the clerical workers at the University of California. She joined the California Nurses Association in 1986.

“If you aren’t a neo-liberal zombie, you’re a bomb thrower.” — RoseAnn DeMoro

Within the ranks of labor, DeMoro is not universally liked — to say the least.

“SB 562 failed not because of Speaker Rendon, but because the proponents tried to exploit a Trump narrative and make threats to pass an incomplete policy without doing the tough work to build a truly broad-based progressive coalition,“  Jim Araby of the United Food and Commercial Workers union said in a written statement.

Last year at the Democratic National Convention, where DeMoro supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and castigated the Democratic Party for failing its base, she also drew fire.

One high ranking public union official described her to BuzzFeed as a “bomb thrower, not a bridge builder.”

“If you aren’t a neo-liberal zombie, you’re a bomb thrower,” she replied.

DeMoro is not apologetic.

She said she sees nothing of substance coming from the mainstream of the Democratic Party to backup their opposition to Republican policies.

“These folks are sitting around in their circular firing squads trying to figure out how to keep profiting off human suffering.” — RoseAnn DeMoro.

“We’ve been very focused on single-payer health care obviously, but we’ve been very focused on that for years,” DeMoro said.

“But we’ve never seen an environment that’s quite so ripe for genuine systemic change. Initially what we found was lip service from the Democratic Party. We don’t expect much from the Republican Party – except for the fact that, ironically, Donald Trump has made some positive statements about single payer, including what he said about the Australian health care system.”

DeMoro was referring to a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when Trump said, “you have better health care than we do.”

Sanders, who DeMoro supported during the Democratic Primary, and other liberal Democrats are quick to note that Australia – like most of the developed world – guarantees health care for all.

DeMoro told Politico that Trump might be good for single payer as a businessman, because single payer would, in her view, create financial stability in the health care field. In an interview with Capitol Weekly, she was more skeptical, but any optimism she might have had would seem to have been derailed by Trump’s June 30 Tweet:

“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”

Such a move would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

“The problem with the Democrats, frankly, is that they cannot see that from our perspective in a progressive environment the logical conclusion is to reject corporate money…” — RoseAnn DeMoro

“These folks are sitting around in their circular firing squads trying to figure out how to keep profiting off human suffering,” DeMoro said. “And neither the Democrats, nor Republicans, can actually come up with the real answers. (Single payer) removes profit from human suffering, and they just can’t figure out what the right plan is that allows them to profit off of misery, and have funding from the insurers and ‘Pharma’ and all the different places and contributors.

DeMoro did not hold back in calling out the Democrats for lack of vision.

“The problem with the Democrats, frankly, is that they cannot see that from our perspective in a progressive environment the logical conclusion is to reject corporate money and actually go for the bases where the people are and they will fund you and they will support you and they will work for you,” DeMoro said.

Looking forward for the California 2018 gubernatorial race, DeMoro and the nurses union have endorsed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. DeMoro lauded Newsom as a progressive, but added that it will take a concerted effort for the party on the state and national level, to champion the concerns of voters over what DeMoro called “the monied interests (that) are so entrenched in the Democratic Party.” This may lead the party elite to reject populist politics, which she said, would be a grave misstep.

“The Sanders campaign gave voice to…a muted roar of anger at the policies of the United States,” DeMoro said. “The country isn’t working for the average person…We’ve been drowning in neoliberalism for the last forty years and the sanctimonious narrative that went with that.”

In order to unite the party and win back the House and Senate, DeMoro said, Democrats will have to stop ignoring the concerns of voters that led to Trump’s victory in the first place.

“The obligation of anyone who runs as a Democrat, (should be) to put the care and concerns of suffering people at the forefront of their agenda,” DeMoro said. “What we’re trying to do is to make that so.”

  • Steven Maviglio

    Roseann DeMoro (not a nurse) backed Ralph Nader over Al Gore, and didn’t back Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Why should anyone listen to her advice on what Democrats should be doing? With two decades running her union, she’s about as establishment as they come — and apparently gets $700K and has an estate in Napa too. Guess that’s what it takes to care about working people?

    • Billtodd

      Why listen? Excellent question.

      Because Democrats have been losing seats at all levels of government since the beginning of the Obama administration but still keep doubling down on the strategies which have led to that.

      Because DeMoro represents and is very much a part of the people (including a very significant percentage of Democratic party members who simply ignored the obvious and near-unanimous preference of their party establishment) who were willing to get out and work hard for a candidate they believed in, unlike the Clintonistas who just gloried in Hillary’s ‘inevitability’ and talked trash on line.

      Because, as Obama confidante David Axelrod observed, it took some real effort to lose to someone as unelectable as Trump.

      Because it’s long past time that self-styled progressives got over their outrage that the rest of the country wasn’t willing to wait any longer while they kept waffling about just how awful the Democratic establishment would have to become before they actually made hard demands that it reform itself, but instead just moved without them and left them irrelevant.

      Any other questions?

      • Steven Maviglio

        Actually, California Democrats — the ones DeMoro is complaining about and threatening — hold the governorship, all of the state’s constitutional offices, and a 2/3 supermajority in the Legislature. Doubling down on that strategy of success is something that Democrats should do. Yet DeMoro wants no part of that, and instead is tearing a party that she is using for convenience sake (much like Independent Senator (not Democratic) Bernie Sanders.

        Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders because she was a better candidate and embodied the big tent of the Democratic base. And she did what no other candidate, male or female of either party could do: get more votes than Donald Trump. If she was such a bad candidate, then how come Bernie Sanders lost to her?

        Perhaps if the sanctimonious DeMoro would have actually helped Clinton instead of spending millions attacking her, the 70,000 vote difference in three states that made the difference between a President Trump and a President Clinton would have been flipped. But let’s be clear: DeMoro didn’t support the Democratic nominee for President in 2016, just as she didn’t when Bush defeated Gore by a razor thin margin.

        • Billtodd

          Yawn. You can babble and deflect all you want, but the record is crystal clear: the Democrats have failed their traditional constituency for not just the Obama administration but since the neoliberal wing of the party took it over a quarter century (if not more) ago, and save for moments of all-too-soon-to-be-dashed hope like 2006 (remember when Democrats were elected to take over Congress and get us out of Iraq?) and 2008 (when a silver-tongued opportunist convinced us that he represented ‘an end to business as usual’ and ‘change we can believe in’ and ‘transparency in government’ and a return of lost civil liberties) that constituency has wandered away because there was little of importance left for them to follow. Last year, that constituency demanded change and were told to shut up and fall into line, and as a result enough of them rebelled to get Trump elected.

          Many of us who did that aren’t coming back until the party establishment is worth supporting. Get used to it, or join us in fixing what’s so disastrously wrong – your choice.

          • Steven Maviglio

            Yes the record is crystal clear: no candidate of your persuasion has won the presidency or come close. And their numbers in the Congress and even the Legislature are pitifully small. So much for electoral success. So spare us the lecture.

          • Billtodd

            I’m just giving you a dose of reality, and really couldn’t care less whether you like it or not. You asked a question, so don’t complain that you got an answer to it which didn’t match your biases (which – poor baby! – incidentally, were not shared by enough people to get Hillary elected or to keep Republicans from gaining ground in most of the country over the past 8 years).

            So as I said, join us in reforming the party establishment or enjoy being a continuing loser – your choice. The country as a whole demonstrated that it’s moving in a different direction than you would like it to last year, and while that direction is not set in stone it’s pretty clear that returning to the status quo ante is NOT an option.

          • Steven Maviglio

            Here’s the reality: there’s no evidence that moving further will bring any electoral success. So until you demonstrate that, the preaching doesn’t move the ball forward. In fact, just the opposite. Democrats should learn from what the Tea Party extremism did to the GOP, not repeat it with DeMoro & her ilk.

          • Billtodd

            You just don’t get it: I’m not debating or negotiating with you, I’m simply offering you a choice. We’re not going to help Democrats win until we have Democratic candidates worth supporting (and lacking that sometimes we’ll actively oppose them, just as the Tea Party did). You get to react to that in whatever way you choose.

          • Steven Maviglio

            Like a petulant child: if I don’t get my way I’m not playing. Well good then. Stay in your standbox, never win anything, and let the Republicans win it all. Sounds like a brilliant strategy to me. Ask Ted Cruz how that works for him.

          • Billtodd

            Petulant child – sure. Since I registered as a Democrat upon reaching voting age in 1968 I’ve probably been politically active since you (and quite possibly even your parents) were in diapers, twit.

            And I’m certainly still playing. The last national establishment Democrat I voted for was in 2002, before they (save for a few admirable voices) so abjectly failed to mount any serious opposition to the invasion of Iraq (so you could call that ‘letting the Republicans win’, I suppose, though my intent was simply to try to ensure that worthless Democrats lost until their establishment shaped up). Then after I watched them gut Obamacare behind the scenes in 2009 – 2010 while claiming to be trying to make it what Obama had promised while campaigning (don’t babble incompetently about that until you’re ready to refute the material in ) I pledged to the party leadership that I’d be voting Republican against them in any race where my vote might possibly make a difference until the public option became law (and have, of course, been doing so: unlike our corrupt establishment corporate sell-outs I keep my promises).

            Fortunately, the far more blatant events of last year allowed a great many other people to see the light as well – enough to make a real and continuing difference. Get used to it or don’t – we couldn’t care less how you feel about us, but would of course welcome anyone interested in helping us take back the party we used to support.

          • Steven Maviglio

            And you apparently couldn’t care less about the Party nor the ideals you say you believe in. Because standing in the corner and ranting until you get your away doesn’t result in achieving your goals.

          • Billtodd

            Just keep on believing that, sheep: it’s what toadies like you are best at, and likely much more comforting (and undemanding) than actually trying to change what needs to be changed.

          • Steven Maviglio

            Facts are stubborn things.

          • Billtodd

            Which is likely why you’ve relied solely on your unsubstantiated opinion in this discussion and are now reduced to descending into cliches – far more convenient but far less persuasive.

          • Steven Maviglio

            Let me pull out another quote, this one from Barney Frank (who probably wasn’t progressive enough for you either): “Trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table: I have no interest in doing it.”

          • Billtodd

            And yet here your are, yet again. No self-discipline, obviously – but it’s one of many traits that can be acquired if you work at it (and one of many you could obviously benefit from unless being vacuous is your goal in life).

          • califdems

            Bill, you write that at age 71 you vote for Republicans and you “watch” politics. I don’t read that you ever have been a candidate for local office, much less ever having won. I don’t read that you serve as a volunteer municipal commissioner or that you have any experience serving in government at any level ever during your life. Are there some Democrats who wear the liberal name without walking the talk? Sure. But your bio presents a wealthy, aging, male, white landowner who cares so little for the suffering of real people today that you vote to give power to other wealthy, aging, male white landowners who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Reality check: one does not move progressive causes by voting for Republicans. I accept that you like Trump. Just proves that you not only are a non- progressive, but that you support rollbacks of laws that protect real people. Perhaps you are so personally wealthy as to not care much about the challenges of working people and parents today.

          • Billtodd

            You’re really not the sharpest tool in the shed, califdems. As I’ll be turning 70 this year I most certainly did not ‘write’ that I’m 71 – you likely inferred that because you’re too young a twit to know and too lazy a twit to look up what voting age was in 1968.

            I’m far too acerbic to be a politician but have kept a very close eye on their antics since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 made it clear that they had gone completely off the rails (yeah, people like Nader realized that a long time before I did, so sue me – but, by contrast, people like you seem still to be comatose, so don’t presume to lecture me on the subject). And it’s not just ‘some Democrats’ (at least if you’re talking about the Democratic establishment, though a large percentage of the base are as decent as they’ve always been even if still largely operating out of now-dangerous habit) who fail to walk the talk: it’s the large majority of the national establishment plus a disgusting percentage of state-level sell-outs – with the majority of the rest damned for being willing to go along with them because they’re too lazy or scared not to.

            And it takes a real moron to infer the rest of what you’ve accused me of without a shred of evidence. Aging? Well, if you judge by years, perhaps. Wealthy? Not by a long shot, though far enough above the poverty line to be somewhat secure (though hardly ‘comfortable’) as long as we watch our modest expenditures carefully – and to be painfully aware of how many people are far worse off than we are.

            Simpletons like you obviously aren’t acquainted with how the cliche “no pain, no gain” applies to politics. When you’ve got an entrenched power structure (the Democratic establishment) that’s implacably opposed to being reformed (if you didn’t understand that after last year you really are functionally comatose) and highly successful at suppressing even third-party reform efforts you’ve got to neuter it by any means necessary (in this case, by throwing it out of office and thus out of influence) before you can make any headway in taking the party back from its clutches so that it can start reforming the country – and if that entails voting for Republicans in situations where that might help, so be it (as the situation was different in earlier elections I voted for Nader in 2004 and 2008 and for Stein in 2012: did you?).

            Trump is nearly as much an idiot as you are: I don’t ‘like’ him, he was simply a useful tool (a ‘lesser evil’ vote when all circumstances were considered) in the pursuit that I just described. The repeal of the ACA, caricature of ‘reform’ though it was, would please me only because it would help emphasize the need for the REAL reform which only a single-payer system can achieve in this country (reform which the ACA squelched for the past 7 years until its deficiencies became to blatant to ignore).

            As for being a progressive, I likely was one decades before you stopped wearing diapers. Rather than avoid the draft I stood up and refused to be inducted in 1968 because so many others didn’t have the opportunities that I did to avoid it, and was lucky to be reclassified as a conscientious objector (which I had not requested, thinking that such requests were granted only for religious reasons) and assigned to alternative service as an orderly in a mental hospital rather than jailed for years (have you ever risked serious jail time for something you believed in?).

            I hope that when (or if) you actually grow up you’ll understand life and politics a lot better than your knee-jerk, establishment-parroting response here indicates. What’s likely coming in the decades ahead is going to make even mere survival difficult for twits.

          • califdems

            Bill, I appreciate that you have affirmed publicly your presidential voting choices of the last four cycles. Your votes for Nader and Stein do not make you dangerous. Your vote for Trump as an implementation of your strategy or dream to destroy the Democratic Party makes you dangerous. You are willing to give power to people who oppose every form of social support for poor people, for working people, for immigrants, for children…and who additionally call women by insulting, degrading names. You are willing to hurt today’s children for some unrealizable vision of a different government later for people whose parents have not even met yet, much less having conceived them. Many individual Democrats who are alive today have a progressive vision that is not yet achieved. But my primary criticism of you is that you are a sideline quarterback, not someone engaged in actual public service, where you personally have to gather a majority of votes to get your proposals implemented. Senator Sanders started in municipal/local government. I invite you to do the same.

          • Billtodd

            Of course my votes for Nader and Stein didn’t ‘make me dangerous’, much as the Democratic party establishment attempted to claim they did with their incessant “a vote for x is a vote for y” drivel: they were simply a small gesture of support for an alternative to the corporate political duopoly which we so desperately need to get rid of. And my vote for Trump only made me dangerous to that duopoly, because Trump threatens the status quo (not in a good way, but the attack that threat represents is more important than whatever temporary costs it may entail) which they so depend upon maintaining.

            While your intentions may be good you’re a typical establishment puppet, with David Brock’s hand up your ass controlling your behavior. It’s people like you who allowed the Democratic establishment to become so utterly corrupt that a sufficiently large portion of its base (in conspicuous contrast to people like you who followed its “But the Republicans are WORSE!!!” mantra like good little sheep) just said ‘enough is enough’ and told them to go to hell. Most didn’t follow through as I did by actively voting against them, but that was simply carrying the rebellion to its logical extreme.

            You’ve been supporting a Democratic establishment which with not all that many exceptions has been covertly taking us in the same direction the Republicans have been openly pursuing: continuing erosion of civil liberties, constant warfare to support the military-industrial complex and attempt to control the world for the benefit of our oligarchy, elevation of the wealthy and the corporate over the public which that establishment is supposed to serve, etc., etc., ad nauseam. And by doing so you’re the one who’s responsible for the existing and continuing consequences to the people you claim to have so much concern for, just because taking responsibility for actually doing something about the situation is too uncomfortable for you even to contemplate.

            The bottom line is that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to create an opportunity to change the direction that our country has been taken on by that corporate-run duopoly for at the very least the last quarter century, while you remain an apologist for half of it and actively resist such efforts by trying to shame anyone who is determined to be proactive in that area as being responsible for all the ills of the world which the party establishment which you support so blindly bears a huge percentage of responsibility for (you probably didn’t bother to read my linked description of how they gutted the ACA, as that would just be one more inconvenient truth that you’d need to try to work around).

            So I invite you to take a long, fast drive off a short pier. The sooner we’re rid of deadweight like you the sooner we can gather momentum with people dedicated to real change (think ‘change we can believe in’ and ‘an end to business as usual’, but without the bitter irony that developed so quickly afterward). And we really couldn’t care less whether you approve of that or not: in case you hadn’t noticed, establishment shills like you aren’t exactly in the driver’s seat any more.

    • Fielding Greaves

      Nioliberal zombies are bad. What a catchy and effective campaign platform.

    • Gobshite

      You’re just upset by your own impotence, Steve-o. Roseann DeMoro is demonstrably the most important and transformative labor leader of the 21st century (so far anyway.) Stop making the same mistakes of your ratlike ancestors– listen to the people’s prophets, don’t attack them.

      • Steven Maviglio

        “Important and transformative”? Exactly what has she accomplished? President Sanders? President Nader? Enactment of single payer? Oh that’s right, nothing she does — except getting her name in the paper — is effective.

        • Gobshite

          Nurse to patient ratios? Creating the largest national org of RNs? Organizing tens of thousands of RNs across the nation, including in the south where most Dems like you don’t dare to tread? The best contracts in the country that have raised the standard of living for women and their households across California? You’re a very small and insignificant person compared to her.

          • Steven Maviglio

            Actually, the nurse to patient ratio law was the result of hard work by Sheila Kuehl and signed into law by Gov Davis (who I worked for). The union’s members are concentrated in CA and traditionally union-friendly states, so no surprise there.

          • Gobshite

            Do you honestly think Sheila Kuehl or your former boss would agree with you that DeMoro and her org were not the actual drivers and heroes of that fight? Oh, and nice work you did for Davis– were you there when he got recalled and replaced by Arnold? If I recall, your boss’s successor tried to stop the implementation of the ratios and DeMoro’s crew had to win that fight too– which they did, like countless other battles. And stop pretending like organizing workers is easy stuff– have you ever tried it?

          • Steven Maviglio

            If the only thing you can point to is something that happened 13 years ago and organizing workers, I guess you’ve made my point for me. For the 700K she pulls down every year, you’d think she could do better than that.

          • Gobshite

            I have no idea how much she’s paid nor is that relevant– and in any case, CNA has an elected board that determines such matters, so you’re really just pointing the finger at the bedside RNs who comprise the org. Go ahead and blame nurses if you want. But millions of patients have benefited over the past 13 years from ratios, and hundreds of thousands of nurses and folks like me look to DeMoro as a beacon of truth and justice. You should have a little more respect for we the people. Perhaps if Dems did, they wouldn’t be in the mess they’re in now.

          • Steven Maviglio

            Actually I have a lot of respect for nurses, since my mom is one and I know what the job entails. And I also believe in the democratic process and people like Speaker Rendon who dedicate their lives to improving people. What I don’t have respect for are bomb throwers like Roseann DeMorro that accomplish little and don’t respect the work of those of us who understand how to get things done.

          • Gobshite

            Do you realize how patronizing you sound? Rendon is a joke and so are you. He’s dedicated his life to improving his own lot. DeMoro has organized tens of thousands of workers who previously had no voice– you have no idea what skill/drive/vision that takes, stop pretending like you do. Only establishment figures like you treat people rising up like a bomb– you’re going to see that doesn’t take much to topple your house of cards..

  • Steve Russell

    Many of the Nurses who are CNA members embarrassed by the tactics of Dear Leader Rosanne and do not go along with their positions. Most have just resigned to apathy as the organization is not responsive to them. They make good money so just ignore CNA for the most part. The noise you hear and see is from a couple hundred supporters who show up at all the events. Advocating the removal of members benefits that were bargained for and to replace with State run Medi-Cal is not my idea of acting in members best interests. I have been one of their Nurse Reps for years and am dismayed by the lack of responsiveness just to simple member inquires about their positions in our name or how they are spending our money. Just look at the 2016 FY Department of Labor LM-2 report and look at their cash on hand, expensive real estate holdings, and very questionable expenses. I have been requesting information on their aprox 750K expenditure to “National Cooperate Housing” last year which is high end furnished housing to who know’s who because they wont say. Its listed as Representational Expenses. Request for information completely ignored.

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