Monday, February 17, 2014

Bargaining Turns Tough Over Staffing

When the union surveyed our members last fall, the number one issue identified was staffing.  You told us that you are overworked, asked to do more and more with less and less, and that the quality of patient care suffers because of it.

The union and management met again on Thursday, February 13, for negotiations.  Although there has been progress up to this point, bargaining hit a roadblock over the issue of staffing.  The union has proposed staffing ratios intended to address the concerns you identified.  Management’s response: we are not understaffed.  We only need to be “educated” to see that everything is okay.

In an hour-long presentation, management tried to convince the union bargaining team there are already sufficient resources, we just don’t appreciate what we have.  All we need to do shuffle what is already available.  That’s like saying if only the deck chairs on the Titanic had been rearranged, it wouldn’t have sunk.

We know what you are experiencing is real.  Management already has the ability to redistribute resources to address the problem.  They haven’t done it.  We need enforceable contract language to fix the problem.

Studies directly link safe staffing to reduced rates of patient deaths and post-operative complications, including respiratory failure, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, shock, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and shorter hospital lengths-of-stay.   And it’s cost-effective for the hospital.  Safe staffing ratios have produced cost savings for hospitals in reduced spending on temporary nurses and overtime costs, lower nurse turnover, improved patient outcomes, and shorter patient lengths of stay.   Preventing medical errors reduces loss of life and could reduce healthcare costs by as much as 30 percent.

Now is the time for you to let your manager know that your unit is understaffed, you are over worked, and your patients are suffering for it.    Make your voice heard!  You deserve a real solution to the problem.

The union is meeting with members to discuss the issue on Tuesday, February 18, from 6:30am to 6:30pm in the Madison Board Room.  The next bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday, February 20.

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