In your facilities #
We’ve worked with employers to secure new agreements, clear policies and resources for nurses. Where employers have fallen short, we’ve filed complaints with the Department of Health and Occupational Safety (DOSH) and other relevant bodies to hold employers accountable.
WSNA has negotiated Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) at more than 20 facilities, covering members and providing conditions such as reassignment guarantees for nurses with higher risk factors and paid quarantine policies. We continue to negotiate at facilities around the state. Highlights of provisions achieved include:
- Paid administrative leave when quarantined.
- Immediate access to EIT/PTO.
- Timely notification (e.g., “within 8 hours,” “as soon as possible”) of exposure.
- Maintenance of health insurance if unable to work.
- Float premiums ($4-$10/hr).
- Additional bank of paid emergency time-off hours.
WSNA filed DOSH complaints at 10 facilities to hold employers accountable for unsafe working conditions stemming from issues such as inadequate PPE, improperly maintained equipment and insufficient cleaning procedures.
With public officials #
WSNA’s advocacy has helped move officials to act decisively in this crisis. As a result, Washington has flattened the curve faster and more effectively than many other states. Our public advocacy has included the following:
- Worked with Gov. Inslee to secure a proclamation protecting high-risk workers from dangerous assignments and guaranteeing alternate assignment or access to accrued leave and unemployment benefits where alternate assignment was unavailable.
- Worked with Gov. Inslee to issue new workers’ compensation guidance, including assumption that COVID-19 exposure happened on the job and paid leave during any quarantine period.
- Fought to prevent the CDC from easing PPE requirements and other health and safety rules during the pandemic.
- Engaged the Department of Health and Vice Admiral Bono to secure shipments of PPE from the national strategic reserve, push for transparency in testing protocol and results, protection of vulnerable workers and other key issues.
- Secured a Hazard Alert from the department of Labor & Industries prohibiting the use of carcinogenic ethylene oxide in PPE decontamination processes.
- Worked with King County to secure free hotel rooms for nurses in King County who feared exposing family members in the absence of accessible testing.
- Used our childcare survey, completed by nearly 1,000 members, to engage public officials statewide to provide childcare options for nurses and other health care workers.
- Worked with our partner unions, especially UFCW 21 and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, to push for public policy including hazard pay, appropriate PPE, childcare and housing and other critical issues our members have raised.
- Petitioned state and federal officials to protect and support nurses with adequate PPE, hazard pay, fair reassignment opportunities and other measures members asked us to fight for.
- Facilitated member conversations with their elected representatives in the Congressional Delegation.
WSNA member meetings with congressional delegation
To support our efforts to get federal relief for members, WSNA set up video conference meetings with members of Congress. These listening sessions provided an opportunity for our congressional delegation to hear about nurses’ experiences on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During these meetings, nurses shared their experiences and concerns over lack of PPE, inadequate COVID testing, and — in light of these unsafe working conditions — the request for hazard pay.
As of mid-May, WSNA members had met with Congressman Derek Kilmer (7th CD), Congressman Adam Smith (9th CD), Congressman Dan Newhouse (4th CD), Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (1st CD), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (7th CD) and Congressman Denny Heck (10th CD).
As the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of The Washington Nurse magazine went to press, Congress was continuing to discuss a fourth COVID stimulus package, to include funding for PPE, COVID-19 testing and hazard pay.
Protecting your practice #
Throughout this crisis, we’ve worked to ensure nurses have access to the information and resources you need and to protect nursing practice during this pandemic and beyond. WSNA produced resources and guidance to help members navigate the changing landscape during this challenging time, including:
- Regularly updated FAQs on key matters, from PPE accessibility to benefits and staffing issues.
- Webinars and videos to help members navigate available resources, access state programs and understand rules such as PPE accessibility, testing and personal safety.
- Resource pages to help nurses with workplace and personal issues, including cleaning and disinfecting procedures, psychosocial supports, parenting information and more.
When WSNA heard that hospitals were considering using ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, to clean face masks, we launched into action to put a stop to this cleaning process. Read more…
In the media #
The voices of front line nurses have been critical at every step of the fight, and WSNA has worked to ensure that your stories are being told while working to protect you from retaliation. We’ve lifted up nurse voices in hundreds of media and online outlets — local, national and international — telling the real story of what’s happening on the front line. Through the media, we’ve helped move public opinion and policy to benefit nurses and other essential workers. Check out the IN THE PRESS section of our website for a sampling of the hundreds of stories WSNA staff and members have appeared in.
When Dr. Ming Lin, a longtime emergency room physician at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, was fired for speaking out about the lack of PPE in his hospital, WSNA immediately released a statement of support.
We spoke to reporters around the world about the problem of silencing nurses and other health care workers who were working on the front lines without the protective equipment and protocols they needed. Our executive director, Sally Watkins, penned a guest column in The Seattle Times.
Then, we launched the #SilenceKills campaign on social media to highlight the severe PPE shortage and nurses’ inability to speak out for fear of retaliation from their employers.
Adam Halvorsen, a registered nurse at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in the Tri-Cities and a member of WSNA’s Board of Directors, produced a video viewed by tens of thousands of people.
Adam is a Marine who was deployed to Iraq and has worked as a firefighter and first responder, all roles where proper PPE helped keep him safe.
“As nurses and health care providers, we should not be expected to face this pandemic without proper personal protective equipment (PPE),” Adam said in the video. “Now is the time to speak up, because #SilenceKills.”
WSNA members around the state shared photos of themselves with #SilenceKills signs, and member leaders spoke to the media about the dire need for more PPE. WSNA continues to raise your concerns and your voices in the media and in social media about the conditions you face.
Continuing the fight for members #
We’re proud of the wins we’ve achieved through solidarity and hard work, but we know that there are still significant issues facing our members across the state. Our team will continue to work to protect your health and safety, to win hazard pay and other recognition for your work and to uplift the stories of your contributions to our state and our country.