Press Release

AFT’s Weingarten and Healthcare Leaders Call Patient Safety and Quality Care Act Critical for Healthcare Workforce

For Release:


Sarah Hager Mosby

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s fastest-growing healthcare union; John Brady, RN, executive vice president of AFT Connecticut and chair of the AFT Nurses and Health Professionals program and policy council; Tamie Cline, RN, president of the Oregon Nurses Association; and Debbie White, RN, president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees issued the following statement after the introduction of the Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act, which sets minimum nurse-to-patient staffing requirements for direct-care registered nurses, requires a study of staffing requirements for direct-care licensed nurses and provides whistleblower protections:

Weingarten said:

“Our healthcare workforce is in crisis. Dangerous working conditions are impairing patient care and creating more stress and burnout for our nurses and other healthcare professionals. They care for our communities, and it’s time we care for them. This bill is a critical part of that, establishing into federal law safer patient and staffing limits so one nurse isn’t responsible for too many patients; it improves working conditions, which will improve patient outcomes.

“Our Code Red campaign, a $1 million national, multiyear campaign, is about creating safe staffing limits and about supporting our healthcare workforce through federal and state legislation, collective bargaining, student loan relief and additional investment in recruitment and training. Our members are pressing state by state—from Oregon, to Connecticut, to Washington—to ensure that patients receive the care they deserve. But we shouldn’t just be doing this state by state. Sen. Brown and Rep. Schakowsky recognize the urgent need to protect our healthcare workers and the communities and patients they serve at the federal level. Safe staffing and patient levels save lives and protect patient care, but they require hospital employers to put people over profits, and they require the interests of high-paid CEOs to take a backseat to straightforward policy that would help make care safer for patients. It’s time to stop code red and start doing what needs to be done to pass the Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act.”

Brady said:

“We modeled our proposed legislation in Connecticut after the federal legislation. It’s long overdue for this legislation to get passed nationwide. We are encouraged by what’s happening in states like Oregon. I believe that all the efforts in individual states and with collective bargaining help build momentum.”

Cline said:

“ONA members are truly appreciative of the dedicated work our partners across the nation have put into this federal legislation effort, as we are currently fighting to pass HB 2697 in Oregon to address nurse-to-patient ratios. This legislation is truly historic and long overdue; for our nation to have nurse-to-patient ratios codified in state statute would be unprecedented. Simply put, this legislation, once passed, will create safe staffing across the nation, protect our nurses and help to significantly address the staffing crisis we face daily.”

White said:

“We stand behind the safe staffing legislation introduced by Rep. Schakowsky and Sen. Brown as a solution to the current staffing crisis in healthcare. We have had close to 20 years to see the enormous benefits of the California staffing legislation. Safe staffing saves money, saves lives and can save healthcare.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.