National Nurses Union Members Converge on Washington D.C. to Push for New Legislation

On May 11, 2010, the National Nurses United (NNU) and nurses from across the country visited Washington D.C. to push for new legislation that would require health care employers to implement nurse-to-patient ratios similar to those in California and also require those same employers to hire more nurses.  In addition, the NNU is pushing for bills that would create new federal standards for patient safety and provide the Department of Veterans Affairs’ nurses with the same collective bargaining rights as nurses working for other health care institutions.  Nurses’ unions also support a bill that would require health care employers to implement safe patient handling and lifting standards and injury prevention plans.  The Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety held a hearing on this issue on May 12, 2010.

During the visit to Washington, the NNU also announced its “Resolution on National Contract Standards,” designed to send a message to health care employers that nurses will no longer agree to “concessionary contracts,” which the NNU claims include the same takeaways “almost word for word” across the country – including “takeaways in compensation, health benefits, retirement plans, or work hours or schedules.”  To that end, the NNU’s resolution contains “national collective bargaining standards for all NNU contract agreements,” including:

Enhanced RN staffing, based on individual patient acuity with minimum, specific RN-to-patient ratios and contract language to enforce staffing ratios;

  • Restrictions on unsafe floating;
  • A ban on mandatory shift rotation and mandatory overtime;
  • Mechanisms to contain exposure of patients and nurses to pandemics and other communicable diseases;
  • Improved retirement security through adequately funded and guaranteed defined benefit pension plans and employer-paid post-retirement medical benefits;
  • Limits on the introduction of new technology that displaces RNs or RN professional judgment;
  • Workplace safety protections to provide for RN health and safety; and
  • Provisions that enhance and promote unity and collective strength for union RNs. 

The NNU, with a national presence of at least 150,000 members, boasts that these new standards will ensure that experienced nurses are hired and retained and provide for a safer environment for patients.

This entry was written by Jennifer L. Mora.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.