SEIU National Nurse Alliance hosted its biennial conference on October 16-17 around the theme “Quality Care: SEIU Nurse Leading the Way from the Bedside to the Community.”
Over 400 nurses attended the two-day conference in Pittsburgh – including members from all of our locals in California. Workshops covered a wide range of topics – from staffing and the Affordable Care Act, through chapter building and quality care at the bedside, to nurse activism and workplace safety.
Tommy Whitehouse, Administrative Organizer of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania (HCPA), facilitated one of the workshops, “Safety in Action: A Case Study from Altoona Hospital, Altoona, PA.” The presentation highlighted a recent victory that HCPA achieved after writing a formal complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency charged with protecting workers on the job. There was a lot of great discussion about countering the underreporting of workplace injuries and illnesses in healthcare, and how becoming educated on our rights can empower us to be activists for health and safety on the job.
Mary Kay Henry, SEIU International President, opened the session on Thursday, welcoming the new members of the Nurse Alliance Leadership Council (NALC). She went on to talk about the importance of the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, and organizing and strengthening collective bargaining for service workers. “I am so proud to be fighting with all of you,” Mary Kay said, to the packed room of nurses dressed in purple scrubs in anticipation of going out later in the day to spread the word in Pittsburgh about the Affordable Care Act and how to enroll.
At the panel discussion “Health & Safety: What Nurses Need to Know to Protect Themselves and Their Patients,” SEIU Nurse Alliance of California Executive Director Ingela Dahlgren, RN, and SEIU Local 121RN Liaison to the Nurse Alliance of California Kathy Hughes, RN, along with SEIU Local 121RN Health and Safety Director Richard Negri, discussed our current work around the campaign to petition Cal/OSHA for a comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Standard for Healthcare Workers.
The workplace violence prevention campaign was also featured at a table we hosted at the all-day Health Fair on Wednesday. We collected 173 signatures in support of the campaign, handed out forms for nurses to share their stories of workplace violence, let people know about our on-going survey, and shared resources for more information via thumb drives. There wasn’t a nurse who stopped by who didn’t immediately grab for a pen when we told them about the campaign and asked them if they wanted to sign the petition.
Thank you to all of our amazing nurses who traveled to Pittsburgh to be part of the conference! We were able to take some pictures, a few of which are here. For a larger album, please visit our Facebook page.