Your national union, National Federation of Nurses (NFN), provides essential support to Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) in our work to solve the issues most critical to nurses in the state. Wins in Oregon, united with those of other members all over the country, form the foundation for NFN’s advocacy at the national level for workplaces where all nurses and their patients are protected.
Right now, securing these protections are more important than ever.
Nationwide, unsafe nurse staffing levels are leading to burn out, injury and compromised patient care. Nurses are victims of America’s broken health care system—both as front line health care workers and as employees. The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act means millions more Americans will have access to health care, making the need for increased staffing even greater.
What’s more, the rights of nurses, fire fighters, teachers and other public servants to collectively bargain for safe and equitable workplace conditions are under attack across the nation, including here in Oregon.
To combat this ongoing assault on labor, NFN is supporting ONA’s involvement in Oregon Strong Voice, a coalition of public and private-sector unions working together to protect working families from political attacks and improve their quality of life. Later this month, NFN president Barbara Crane, RN, and NFN chief executive officer, Lorraine Seidel, RN, will be in Oregon to visit local bargaining units in support of their contract negotiations and to discuss with members, one-on-one, face-to-face, their concerns as working staff nurses.
NFN and ONA bring to Oregon Strong Voice demonstrated success in protecting workers’ rights. This fall, the two organizations worked in close collaboration with the Ohio Nurses Association and the We Are Ohio coalition to repeal Senate Bill 5, legislation that would have stripped workers of their rights to collectively bargain in Ohio. Had it remained intact, the law would have been detrimental for nurses. As you know, collective bargaining allows us to fight for safety provisions including policies that ensure nurses aren’t assigned to too many patients at once or forced to lift heavier patients without the right safety equipment, which can lead to mistakes, injuries and death.
The success in Ohio was a testament to the power of solidarity and uniting the voices of workers’ all over the state. To share lessons learned and help members recognize their important role in these fights, NFN hosted its annual National Labor Academy in May, centered around the theme of "Sharpening Our Political and Collective Bargaining Focus.” The Academy gave participants concrete tools to advocate for workplace protections and brought nurses from around the country together to share strategies for successfully fighting anti-worker legislation.
Unsafe staffing levels is another issue nurses everywhere are experiencing. Quality nursing care can mean the difference between life and death, yet adequate precautions are not in place to protect nurses and patients from the dangers of nurse fatigue. Committed to reversing this trend, NFN is spearheading an effort to create a national optimal staffing model while also supporting the state members’ work on this issue. Our neighbor to the north, the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA), just launched its new Campaign for Patient Safety. The Campaign includes a coalition of health care unions, labor organizations, and consumer groups that together are pushing important pieces of legislation to address core patient safety concerns.
To learn more about NFN and its national advocacy on your behalf, visit www.nfn.org. There you can download resources from the Academy, gather firsthand insights from those in Ohio and read stories from other nurses around issues of staffing and violence. We’ll be keeping you up to date on what’s happening at the national level and be sure to sign up to receive NFN’s quarterly e-newsletter.