"More than machinery, we need humanity."
Pirates, the following is a brief article from friend of the library GrungyBerns, a nurse here in New York City. Nurses at hospitals in the city have been deep in labor negotiations, and it is coming to a head as we speak. Should the nurses go out, it behooves us all to support them in any and all ways we can.
Going to bed tonight on this the final day of negotiations with the big four hospitals in New York for a work contract. NYSNA Union took a vote over the last few weeks to get permission to strike and walk out if the union’s demands are not met.
The new contract has a few demands that are being acknowledged in uneven importance. A New York nurses’ contract will ever seek more money – a living wage in a city that is approaching rent hikes rivalling über San Francisco’s – even in poverty stricken, yet ‘hip,’ neighbourhoods. The primary contention of [this] contract is with regards to staffing.
As of now, there are no laws in New York protecting an RN from a hospital placing the responsibility of too many patients on a nurse. The hospital can (and does) extrapolate as much labour from nursing as possible. This is an equation for disaster on many levels.
What is an example of present climate? Well, even though there is a union, lunches are often forgone because the work load imposes simply too much to endorse care to another RN safely. Another RN would need to file a “protest of assignment,” to only ameliorate their punishment when something goes wrong because the workload was unsafe. It does not radically change the fact that the workload is unsafe – it just only kind of protects the nurse from the possible sanctions. This still places patients at risk!
A strike is important. At last count, and with 95% of membership vote (15,ooo+), an unprecedented majority voted to strike and walk off the job if demands are not met. This is a statement about the impossible demands placed on nurses with no end in sight. Limits must be set on workplace abuse. This is about patient care. This is about your care.
I was recently told that because we are largely women, the press will “destroy us.” Not only are we mostly women, there are also LGBTQI prevalent within us. We are [also] notably blessed to have many women of colour to call colleagues. To deny us worker rights to safe care also blights these community groups within us. We need the larger community support as traditional oppression is at play once again.
To further bolster our cause, it should be noted that we are without a strike fund. A strike fund helps and allows one to pay routine bills/buy food when one strikes. We do not have one. We will forgo pay during this time. The issue is this serious.
The hospitals feel that by giving us more money, we will tolerate these working conditions. This will not help. There will only be more falls, higher rates of infection, and other adverse events.
How do we know what will happen with higher staffing? Well, for one, California successfully established this law several years ago. Our available research is mostly beyond 5 year recency at this point, but it is all in the worker nurses’ favour. Since then, acuity levels of your average patient have shot up over the years. Only the [very] sick are hospitalised.
This same research shows there a significant drop in hospital payouts for falls and adverse events. It would actually behoove hospitals to take on more nursing staff for patient safety and satisfaction.