Could Union Jobs Be Trumping the Health of Children?

Words like 'nurses' and 'teachers' usually elicit warm and fuzzy feelings. But this isn't so warm-and-fuzzy: The unions representing nurses and teachers in California are teaming up to fight new legislation that would help ensure the health of 63,000 epileptic children.

Here's the way it shakes out.  If an epileptic child is in need of life-saving medication, Senate Bill 1051 would allow a trained school staff member to administer the medication to the child.  The staff member will first have to volunteer, then take about a half hour of training to learn how to successfully administer the drug.  

So what's the problem? Nurses consider this a threat to their job security. The California Nurses Association and their labor friends, The California Teachers Association, are fighting the bill. These are powerful unions with serious agendas -- saving nursing jobs.

Doctors say the drug, Diastat, is safe and doesn't need to be administered by an expert. According to Dr. Howard Taras, a UC San Diego professor, even if the drug is administered unnecessarily, there isn't any danger.  Arthur Partikian, a pediatric neurologist, agrees. He says it's not that complicated. He readily prescribes the medication, saying it's safe, simple and it works.

But the California Nurses Association calls Diastat "a very dangerous medication." 

So who do you believe? Why would the California Nurses Association fight so hard to keep non-medically trained people from administering a potentially life saving drug to a child in an emergency situation? The answer is jobs. Nursing jobs. Many of which could still be cut given the state's budget crisis.

These unions also have the backing of most Democrats in the state senate.  Even so, Senator Gloria Romero, a Democrat running for state superintendent of schools, supports SB 1051. The Democrats are intimidated by the teacher's unions, she admitted.  

"So all of a sudden it's a jobs bill for the unions rather than a health bill for the kids," Republican Senator Bob Huff said.

It's no secret everyone wants to protect their piece of the pie. But for some 63,000 kids to be protected from a potentially serious medical situation, someone will have to skip dessert.  

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