Strike nurse faces backlash after viral TikTok

On July 5, a TikTok user posted a video detailing a "day in the life" of a strike nurse. Viewers had mixed opinions. 

Mireya Bustamante, BSN, RN, has more than 51,000 TikTok followers and 4.4 million likes across her videos, many of which center around her shifts as a travel nurse. She is currently employed by St. Louis-based Ascension but based in Austin, Texas, according to her LinkedIn profile. Her video was posted about a week after union members went on strike at Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin, alleging the health system dismissed their solutions for improving patient safety. 

Ms. Bustamante's controversial video shows her flying into the unspecified city where staff nurses are striking and taking part in onboarding in a conference room at her hotel. 

"Strike contracts are a pretty quick turnaround, so you have to be ready to go," Ms. Bustamante said. "You also have to be extremely adaptable and flexible, similar to travel nursing."  

The 35-second clip was viewed more than 225,000 times on TikTok. It was reposted to Twitter by a separate user, where it was viewed 4 million times. 

"Imagine bragging about being a scab," the reposter captioned the video, using a derogatory term for those who cross picket lines for work. 

Hundreds of commenters on Twitter and TikTok joined the reposter and condemned Ms. Bustamante for working the strike. 

"You're actively harming the striking nurses and nursing profession," TikTok user @TheNurseErica wrote on the platform, gaining more than 6,000 likes on her comment. "I wouldn't be bragging." 

Other comments read, "Whose side are you on?" and "union strong, all day long." One user alleged, "It's people like you who keep nurses from being able to negotiate fair pay and working conditions." 

However, some users defended Ms. Bustamante, saying patients still require care while staff nurses are on strike. 

"Patients need to be taken care of, though," wrote Twitter user @VayaConDonos. "They can't be abandoned." 

"For anyone calling her a scab, I hope you don't get seriously injured and in need of an experienced trauma nurse during a strike," tweeted Ard Ardalan, an Austin-based personal injury lawyer. "This nurse probably costs the hospital 4x to 5x the cost of staff nursing and she's actually making the strike more costly for the hospital." 

Ms. Bustamante responded to the backlash in a July 7 follow-up TikTok. 

"Working as a nurse, whether you're a strike nurse or travel nurse, you're a staff nurse, you work in med surg, you work in ICU, you work in the clinic, you work in aesthetics — nothing is wrong about that," Ms. Bustamante said. "There is nothing wrong with you going and working and paying your bills."

Becker's has reached out to Ascension for comment and will update this story if more information becomes available. 

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