Hundreds of nurses attending the annual convention of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, a nonprofit professional society and union for nurses, marched with Occupy Boston protesters on October 5, part of the worldwide protests ignited by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The annual meeting, which ran October 5–7, was held at the Newton (Mass.) Marriott. Following an opening keynote address by U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, MNA bused about 300 nurses to Dewey Square in Boston to demonstrate with the protesters.
“We said, ‘These people are out there doing this wonderful thing, let’s support it,’” said David Schildmeier, director of public communications, MNA, Canton, Mass., who added that MNA tries to incorporate a job action into every annual meeting.
Occupy Boston protesters knew the nurses were coming and greeted them when they arrived. Civil rights activist Cornel West was also at the event, and he protested alongside the nurses. “It drew tremendous media coverage,” said Schildmeier, noting that local television stations, CNN, and local newspapers picked up the story. “We were helping the movement. We believe in it, and I think we lent some credibility to it,” he said.
Members came back to the convention “flying high” because they felt they were really doing something, he said. “It livened up our convention and energized everyone for the next two days,” said Schildmeier. “You had women on the bus calling their kids saying, ‘Go check this out, it’s being covered by TV.’ And the Occupy protesters were really buoyed by this—we were the first union group to show up en masse.”