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Resolutions & Amendments

37th International Convention - Chicago, IL (2006)

Safe Staffing and Strong Unions in Healthcare

Resolution No. 19
37th International Convention
August 7-11, 2006
Chicago, IL

High patient acuity, coupled with rapid admission and discharge cycles and a shortage of nurses, pose serious challenges for the delivery of safe and effective nursing care for hospitalized patients; and

A growing body of evidence suggests that one way to improve quality of patient care is to increase nurse staffing; and

Hospital staff nurses are working longer hours with fewer breaks and often little recovery time between shifts.  No state or federal regulations restrict the number of hours a nurse may voluntarily work in a twenty-four hour or a seven-day period; and

Approximately nineteen states have considered bans on mandatory overtime for nurses, yet bills prohibiting mandatory overtime for nurses have passed only in California, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon; and

One of every two nurses has witnessed medical errors caused by inadequate staffing.  Due to inadequate staffing, 52 percent of nurses reported incidents of delays in patient care one or more times a day, 36 percent reported patient treatment was not done as specified by the patient care plan one or more times a day and 22 percent reported patient accidents one or more times a day; and

High levels of job dissatisfaction related to scheduling, unrealistic workloads, mandatory overtime and hospital administrators’ lack of responsiveness to nurses’ concerns have resulted in high turnover and early retirement among nurses; and

Unionized nurses are more likely to speak out about quality and safety issues without fear of retaliation from their employers; and
The National Labor Relations Board has demonstrated its hostility towards workers’ rights in recent rulings; and

An anticipated ruling by the NLRB on three cases, two of which involve nurses, would broaden the definition of supervisor to include any nurse who has ever worked charge; and

An adverse ruling by the NLRB threatens the strength of every union by eroding workers’ rights to organize and belong to unions.

That AFSCME International assist affiliates in their efforts to negotiate contract language and work with affiliates to enact legislation at the national and state level that would improve recruitment and retention of frontline nurses, including banning mandatory overtime, establishing nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, and instituting flexible work schedules; and

That AFSCME International work with affiliates to educate members about the impending NLRB decision on supervisory status; and that affiliates strive to negotiate contract language that protects members from being reclassified as supervisors based on an adverse NLRB ruling.
SUBMITTED BY: Kathy Sackman, President and Delegate
UNAC/AFSCME Local 1199

Bonnie Marpoe, President and Delegate
AFSCME Council 13