191263 RNs Working Together: Union action to solve the safe staffing crisis

Monday, October 27, 2008: 5:10 PM

Ann Converso, RN , United American Nurses, Silver Spring, MD
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that we will need 1.1 million nurses by 2012. Study after study has shown that when there are not enough nurses on duty, patient care suffers—it's that simple. Nurses increasingly are banding together through their unions to find ways to turn around the staffing crisis and require hospitals to provide adequate RN staffing to their patients. Union nurses know that it will take more than the advice of commissions, committees and study groups to call on hospitals to provide safe RN staffing in their facilities. The AFL-CIO's RNs Working Together coalition, representing 200,000 union RNs nationwide, has taken this fight to Capitol Hill, mobilizing members and calling on legislators to pass H.R. 2123, a real safe staffing bill that will make safe RN-to-patient ratios the law of the land.

Warnings from nurses about the dangers of not acting to fix the RN staffing crisis are clear. In a 2008 anonymous membership survey on safe staffing conducted by the United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, one RN responded that her biggest concern about unsafe staffing ratios is “that I will kill a patient by my neglect, fatigue or error. When I have too many tasks to do and not enough time to do them, I prioritize. I do the tasks but do not give the nursing care.”

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify and discuss ways in which unions are working to solve the RN staffing crisis. 2• Outline legislative strategies to implement and enforce safe RN-patient ratios at the national level.

Keywords: Nurses, Labor

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an RN and am president of the United American Nurses, a national union for nurses, by nurses, with staff nurses establishing the agenda and steering the course. My union is one of the 10 unions that are part of RNs Working Together.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.