Press release

Unions demand hazard pay for health care workers


SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, UFCW 21 and WSNA call for pay increases for all frontline health care workers

Seattle, Wash.— Since even before the first COVID-19 death in late February, frontline health care workers have been working under extraordinarily difficult conditions, without the protective equipment they need to ensure their safety and the safety of their patients. In the face of a national shortage in respirators, masks and other protective equipment, nurses and other health care workers are reusing or going without equipment that is considered standard under normal circumstances. They are putting their lives on the line to save the lives of others.

In view of these extraordinary circumstances, the Washington State Nurses Association, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW 21 issued the following joint statement demanding hazard pay for health care workers as they face this pandemic:

“Every day, we go to work to care for patients and keep our hospitals and health care facilities open, despite the fact that we still have not received enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep ourselves safe.

“Nurses, techs, respiratory therapists, and service and maintenance workers in health facilities are putting our own lives on the line to respond to this crisis. Simply coming to work puts us at heightened risk. At the same time, we are dealing with new economic challenges and hardships brought on by the crisis.

“UFCW 21, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and WSNA call on hospitals and health systems across Washington to recognize the heroic efforts of workers on the frontlines of this pandemic by providing hazard pay increases to all health care workers for the duration of the crisis.

“We cannot put on a price on unsafe working conditions, and hazard pay does not make up for the lack of proper equipment and support. But it does reflect the lived reality that these workers are putting their health and their lives on the line to ensure that our entire state has a fighting chance to beat this pandemic.”

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About SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 30,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.

About WSNA
WSNA is the leading voice and advocate for nurses in Washington state, providing representation, education and resources that allow nurses to reach their full professional potential and focus on caring for patients. WSNA represents more than 19,000 registered nurses for collective bargaining who provide care in hospitals, clinics, schools and community and public health settings across the state.

About UFCW 21
UFCW 21 is working to build a powerful union that fights for economic, political and social justice in our workplaces and our communities. We represent over 45,000 workers in retail, grocery stores, health care, and other industries in Washington state.

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