Standing together for real staffing solutions

WSNA and the other two primary health care unions in Washington state call for a sustain­able, account­able commit­ment to safe staffing in every depart­ment of every hospital in the state.

This story was published in the Winter 2022 issue of The Washington Nurse.

Standing together for real staffing solutions

Fix nurse staffing now

Staffing has been a top issue for WSNA members for many years. In 2021, with the delta variant of COVID-19 bringing yet another wave of infections and hospitalizations, WSNA began working with the other two primary health care unions in the state, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW 21, to fight for real solutions for safe staffing.

After years of inaction by hospital employers and months of unsustainable patient levels, we are joining together to make our voices heard across the state. We’re calling for a sustainable, accountable commitment to safe staffing in every department of every hospital in Washington state.

As the 2022 session of the State Legislature begins, we are pleased to be forwarding a bill that will create accountability for our hospitals, health systems and clinics, with enforceable laws and minimum safe staffing standards every hospital must meet.

As nurses on the front lines know, the staffing shortage pre-existed the pandemic. So many of us were stretched to the limit, forced to take too many patients and work long shifts without a break. But the last couple of years have turned the shortage into a crisis in many of our workplaces. Massive burnout, exhausting workloads, and lack of retention bonuses or adequate incentives have driven many nurses to take better-paying jobs elsewhere or leave the field entirely. Experienced nurses are retiring early, and new nurses are questioning their decisions to go into the profession.

With enforceable, minimum staffing standards, we’re fighting for working conditions that are safe and sustainable — working conditions that will allow you to give your patients the time and care they deserve.

We know this is a fight that will take all of us working together — and our members across the state have been stepping up by speaking to legislators, participating in sticker-up actions, sharing your stories and videos, and taking our message to the media.

The evidence is clear that safe staffing saves lives, and the public recognizes the value of nurses like never before. This is our moment.

Taking on the nurse staffing crisis

The pandemic doesn’t tell the whole story of the nurse staffing crisis. It is a crisis that has been mounting for years — even decades. Chronic understaffing in hospitals is not a new problem. Nurses and other health care workers have long been experiencing it and trying to do something about it. Read more...

Wa safe healthy 1

A coali­tion of health­care workers from WSNA, SEIU 1199NW and UFCW 21 launched the WA Safe + Healthy campaign in December to call on Washington legis­la­tors to pass safe staffing standards that protect health­care workers from danger­ously high patient loads. Learn more...

We cant keep doing this

WSNA nurses joined health care workers from UFCW 21 and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW to meet with more than 75 legislators over the summer and fall of 2021 — sharing firsthand accounts of understaffing from the front lines and urging them to take action. Here are just five of the many stories shared by WSNA members in legislator meetings and through video submissions to the coalition of unions fighting for safe staffing standards. Read more...