Unions praise Governor Inslee for addressing concerns of frontline workers in new proclamation

Repre­senting more than 64,000 nurses and front­line health care workers, the Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion, SEIU Health­care 1199NW and UFCW 21 applaud Governor Jay Inslee for listening to and addressing the concerns of our members in Procla­ma­tion 20 – 24.2, Reducing Restric­tions on, and Safe Expan­sion of, Non-Urgent Medical and Dental Proce­dures,” issued today. 

Nearly nine months into our state’s response to the coron­avirus pandemic, our members continue to work in fear for their own safety and that of their patients. Our members were overworked, under­staffed and unpro­tected in the early months of the pandemic – and that cannot become the new normal. 

We have been working in crisis mode for months, now; the pandemic has taken its toll in COVID-19 illnesses and even deaths among the front­line health care workers who step up every day to care for COVID-19 patients. 

Today, hospi­tals where our members work are reporting to the State that they have suffi­cient PPE, and our state’s stock­pile has enough PPE on hand to fill any gaps. There is no excuse for contin­uing to put health care workers and patients at risk by following the crisis and contin­gency PPE standards imple­mented at the begin­ning of this pandemic. It is time to return to the CDC’s safety standards that were in place in hospi­tals before the pandemic began. 

We have seen COVID-19 outbreaks among patients and staff at St. Michael Medical Center, St. Joseph Medical Center, Multi­Care Auburn Medical Center, Cascade Behav­ioral Health, Harborview Medical Center, Provi­dence Regional Medical Center, St. Mary Medical Center, and others. If we are to prevent outbreaks in additional hospi­tals around the state, it is critical that we provide nurses and other health care workers with the PPE, safe staffing levels and timely testing they need to prevent further hospital-based COVID-19 outbreaks. 

The procla­ma­tion released today includes safeguards for front­line nurses and health care workers and is consis­tent with CDC, Washington Depart­ment of Health and Depart­ment of Labor & Indus­tries advice and standards. 

Washington has been a national leader in this crisis, reporting relatively fewer COVID-19 cases compared to other states; public health officials, health care workers, hospi­tals and members of the public have worked together to meet this crisis head-on. As the antic­i­pated COVID-19 surge is hitting our state, this is no time to go back on what we know works: PPE, testing, staffing, and support for essen­tial health care workers. 

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Jennifer Carson, WSNA
425 – 606-7158 

Anna Minard, UFCW 21
206 – 436-6587

Kenia Escobar, SEIU Health­care 1199NW
425 – 919-8896 

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 17,000 regis­tered nurses for collec­tive bargaining who provide care in hospi­tals, clinics, schools and commu­nity and public health settings across the state.

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 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. UFCW 21 repre­sents more than 45,000 workers in health care, grocery stores, drugstores, cannabis, retail, and other indus­tries in Washington state.