Healthcare Workers to Lawmakers: "Safe Staffing Saves Lives"
In New York and New Jersey, CWAers have been kicking the fight for safe staffing in our healthcare centers into high gear, advocating with elected officials for laws that will guarantee staffing levels that workers need.
New York - On December 19, CWA convened a press conference and rally along with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) before a New York State Legislative Hearing in New York City. Healthcare workers shared personal stories and urged state legislators to prioritize safe staffing and hospital funding in their crucial discussions around the future of New York’s strained healthcare system.
In 2021 we helped pass landmark legislation in New York: the Clinical Staffing Committee law requires every hospital in the state to form joint labor/management committees tasked with creating staffing plans for every unit and shift that are enforceable by the Department of Health. The law is a huge step forward in our fight for safe staffing - but it needs strong enforcement. During the press conference, CWA highlighted the thousands of staffing violations that we filed in November with the DOH, making it clear that the law has been violated at hospitals throughout the state, at the expense of patient care. We also called on our lawmakers to invest in healthcare in this year’s budget to ensure our hospitals have the resources they need to safely staff.
“The recruitment and retention challenges facing hospitals across New York directly result from the deplorable conditions we are working in, primarily lack of staffing,” said CWA Local 1104 member Kerry Larkin, RN, in her testimony at the hearing. “This work environment has led to many healthcare workers leaving the profession altogether. We must improve working conditions and ensure safe staffing to bring workers back to patients' bedside where it’s needed most.”
New Jersey - Several CWA locals in New Jersey got right to work in the new year fighting for safe staffing! On January 4th, members of Locals 1036, 1040, and 1091 joined dozens of healthcare workers from other New Jersey unions to demand safe staffing.
Healthcare workers packed the room for the NJ Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Services Committee. Worker after worker testified about the staffing crisis in our healthcare centers and how overburdened workers are.
“Acuity has gone up, but our staffing has stayed the same. In some cases, the ratio should be one-to-one,” said Local 1091’s Maria Rafinsky, testifying before the Senate Committee. “But [the employers] don’t want to put that in the contract. They’ll only say ‘extreme acuity,’ but that needs to be defined. It needs to be adhered to.”