Major Victory in Our Fight for Safe Staffing

In Tuesday, May 4th, the New York State Assembly and Senate voted to pass two bills that will establish a process for setting and enforcing safe staffing minimum standards at hospitals and nursing homes.

That’s every hospital and nursing home in the state. This is huge.

Healthcare workers with Safe Staffing signs at a rally

CWAers in Buffalo, NY rallying for Safe Staffing in 2015

CWA represents over 15,000 healthcare workers throughout New York who know the dangers to both patients and workers when our healthcare centers are understaffed. When nurses and other healthcare workers care for two or three times the patients they can safely manage, research shows that the chances of infections - or even death - increase. Not to mention the strain it puts on the workers. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened this crisis.

CWA members have been fighting for years to pass legislation to make our healthcare centers safer for our members as well as the patients they care for. We’ve sent thousands of emails and made thousands of phonecalls to elected leaders to advocate for staffing legislation. CWA political activists have spent many long hours in Albany over the years, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles, to speak with legislators in person. We've written op-eds, recorded moving video testimonials, and testified before the Department of Health about the dangers of understaffing.

CWA members testify before the New York Department of Health

Members of Locals 1104 and 1101 testifying before NY Department of Health Representatives in NYC in 2019

In the last week alone, we’ve sent over 350 emails to legislators to demand action. And today is a huge win.

The NYS legislature passed these two bills in the Assembly and in the Senate to make our healthcare centers safer:

Hospital Safe Staffing Committees (S.1168/A.108)

  • Require hospitals to create staffing committees made up of worker representatives and management.

  • Make staffing plans enforceable by the Department of Health.

  • Direct the Department of Health to mandate staffing ratios in intensive and critical care units.

  • Require staffing data to routinely be made publicly available to all on the Department’s website.

  • Allow the DOH to investigate and impose stiff civil penalties against hospitals that fail to 1) form a staffing committee and create a staffing plan 2) resolve violations of their plan.

Nursing Home Staffing Levels (S.6346/A.7119)

  • Require 3.5 hours of direct patient care in nursing homes, per resident, per day.

Group picture of CWA members with signs at a safe staffing rally

Locals 1122, 1133, and 1168 Rallying in Buffalo in 2018

This package of bills will now go to Governor Cuomo’s desk to be signed into law.

We still have work to do in order to make our hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare centers stronger for our members and the patients they care for, but today’s victory is an amazing accomplishment built on years of hard work by many of our members who have never, ever given up. It’s a great testament to what we can do together and the power of our union.

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