There’s no doubt about it: safe staffing saves lives. It’s key to our patients’ well-being – and essential to our ability to honor our oath as RNs. That’s why we voted in May 2012 to make passing a safe staffing law in New York State one of our top priorities.
We made progress in 2013, but we still face tough opposition. Hospitals are used to holding the decision-making power on staffing, and they have no intention of letting go even just a bit. They’re pushing hard to stop our bill from becoming law.
Our fight can feel like a battle of biblical proportions. But we have a plan – and the unyielding resolve – to prevail.
More than 200 NYSNA members participated in a safe staffing discussion and planning session at the convention in October. Nurses shared experiences and found that from western New York to Long Island, we’ve seen the same travesties: patients suffering unnecessarily, and sometimes dying, because of short staffing.
We will not let this stand. At the convention workshop, we discussed the four key components of our campaign and the creative approach we need to take to accomplish our goal: passing a safe staffing law in New York State.
#1. Working with allies to build a movement
EDUCATE the public (at street fairs, schools, offices, churches, stores, etc.) about the importance of safe staffing.
MOBILIZE. Use social media, rallies, and local news to make some noise and build momentum.
INCLUDE patient and family groups, community groups, faith-based organizations, unions, and supportive politicians in planning and strategizing.
#2. Standing up to the industry
COLLECT DATA from Protests of Assignment and incident reports that illustrate the effects of short staffing.
PUBLICIZE the facts about unsafe staffing and CEO salaries that undercut funding for patient care.
UNITE nurses. There’s nothing like solidarity in the face of bullying and intimidation.
#3. Changing the political landscape through election work
MEET candidates and elected officials and let them know we only support those who commit to fighting for the safe staffing bill.
PARTICIPATE in town hall meetings and speak out for safe staffing.
VOTE. Remind fellow nurses to vote. Encourage hospitalized patients to vote by absentee ballot.
#4. Taking on political leaders who block our bill
INFORM. Nurses and the public need to know when their elected officials don’t support the safe staffing law. There’s nothing like voter dissatisfaction to turn a politician’s head.
REVIVE local political awareness committees and build the participation of local colleges and allies.
RALLY. Bring nurses, families, patients, clergy, other unions, and community groups together in front of the offices of legislators who get in the way of quality patient care.
We’re taking a page out of the Mother Jones playbook: mourning the dead and fighting like hell for the living. Lives depend upon our success. Get involved!