Across the United States, AFT health professionals are using their collective voice to secure fairer, safer, and more equitable working conditions and to protect their patients.
Caring for Healthcare Workers
- The Washington State Nurses Association/AFT has joined with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW 21 in the WA Safe + Healthy campaign. The goals of the campaign are to get lawmakers to enact safe staffing standards, better enforce existing laws regulating overtime and meal and rest breaks, and invest in workforce development to boost the number of new healthcare workers. Several WSNA members recently testified before the state legislature’s Labor and Workplace Standards Committee.
- In New Jersey, Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) are partnering with the AFT and the Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) to offer free mental health workshops to the public throughout the spring of 2022, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Virtual workshops and trainings on mental health first aid, trauma and traumatic stress, coping and resiliency, and providing peer to peer support will be taught by MHANJ faculty and will range from 90 minutes to 8 hours in length. Learn more and register today.
Organizing, Bargaining, and Fighting for Our Rights
- On February 24, 2022, Federation of Nurses/UFT members at NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn ratified a three-year contract that makes significant progress in addressing ongoing staffing issues. The contract raises wages by 10.33 percent over 24 months and adds more than 100 RN positions, to be filled on an expedited basis. It also establishes an arbitration panel that will hear staffing shortage cases every month, streamlining the resolution process.
- The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) is celebrating a February 25, 2022, NLRB decision that awards more than $170,000 in back pay to nurses at East Liverpool City Hospital. The decision addresses unfair labor practice charges filed by ONA in 2020 and 2021 and affects more than 40 nurses who were improperly compensated by the hospital. The NLRB also ordered the hospital to bargain in good faith with the nurses, who have been working without a contract since 2020.
- A supermajority of nurses at the University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center signed a petition to join the United Health Professionals of New Mexico with the support of AFT New Mexico and the AFT, which is the fastest growing nurses union in the country. The hospital has tried to quash the organizing effort with legal challenges, but on March 8, 2022, the governor signed a bill affirming the nurses’ right to unionize as public employees, clearing the way for the AFT to file for recognition of two bargaining units.
Restoring Vital Patient Services
AFT Connecticut members are celebrating two big victories over hospitals that have tried to boost profits by cutting crucial services in their communities.
- Rockville General Hospital is home to the Rockville Federation of Registered Nurses, AFT Local 5143, Licensed Practical Nurses and Technical Employees United, AFT Local 5144, and the Rockville General Hospital Skilled Service Employees United, AFT Local 5153. Together, these unions have been fighting to save the hospital from being gutted in advance of a potential sale. On February 16, 2022, the state of Connecticut fined Rockville General Hospital more than $100,000 for illegally continuing a suspension of surgical services that was temporarily granted in 2020 due to COVID-19. According to Christy Ellis, president of the Rockville Federation of Registered Nurses, “Our nurses have been fighting for Rockville Hospital’s viability since its closure during the pandemic. The penalty may be a pittance to Prospect [the California for-profit corporation that owns the hospital], but the principle of putting patients before profits has been upheld.”
- Hartford HealthCare has been fined $65,000 for prematurely closing the maternity unit at Windham Memorial Community Hospital in northeast Connecticut, only the latest in a series of service cuts fought by AFT Connecticut as part of the Windham United to Save Our Healthcare coalition. AFT Connecticut is continuing its efforts to reopen the maternity unit, urging the hospital and the state of Connecticut to put the needs of pregnant people, their families, and providers ahead of Hartford HealthCare’s profits. Sign the petition now!