It’s always amazing just how much SEIU California nurses accomplish every year. You are union nurses, so doing amazing work is a daily occurrence. You spend every working day saving and improving people’s lives, so it’s not really a surprise; but it is certainly a source of tremendous pride. It’s also no surprise that nursing is once again the most trusted profession and that 2020 has been named the year of the nurse.
Here is just a small glimpse of what you’ve attained this year. It isn’t a complete list by any means because as SEIU nurses you are always doing what needs to be done for your patients, clients and communities that you serve. Your vision and advocacy go well beyond local issues, but also nationally and even internationally.
The Trump Administration’s so-called ‘conscience rule’ would have allowed health care workers, pharmacies, insurance plans and hospitals to refuse to provide care based on personal beliefs. This rule would have allowed healthcare providers to deny care to LGBTGI patients, women or anyone who they had a religious objection to or simply didn’t approve. SEIU Local 1021 RN Chair, Sasha Cuttler, RN, PhD led other nurses, healthcare workers and community allies to oppose the final rule change by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Our ‘No Hate in Healthcare’ campaign was successful in stopping the rule’s implementation through multiple press conferences/rallies, the federal court system and with added support from Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Along with the SEIU endorsement of the Green New Deal, here in California and throughout the nation, SEIU nurses took on the issue of climate change and disaster relief. You continue to make the assurance of healthy communities, quality public health and equity a top priority; by providing Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, joining your work with other environmental justice coalitions and obtaining the qualifications to become disaster response nurses yourselves. We’re accomplishing this by entering into a memorandum of understanding with the International Medical Corp in order to participate in future disaster relief efforts; obtaining disaster response certification that can be used both personally and professionally.
As public health nurses, Shamika Ossey and Sharon Sylvers-Sidney, recognized the need for members of their Watts Community to be prepared for imminent disasters and started volunteering to provide CERT training. Today, they are providing this same training to ensure that their fellow nurses are also prepared, with the sponsorship of their Local 721 and SEIU Nurse Alliance of California. Our goal is to have hundreds of California nurses certified and able to join SEIU nurses across the nation in inevitable and vital relief efforts.
Speaking of SEIU Local 721 and Local 1021; these Locals lead our California environmental justice efforts to address climate change and minimize its negative effects on union members and all Californians, especially the under served and communities of color. Maribel Castillon, RN, PHN, the 2019 recipient of our Glenda Canfield award, is one example of a great nurse leader whose dedication improves the lives of those she serves and the community where she lives.
SEIU Nurse Alliance of California members continue to make preserving and improving the Affordable Care Act a reality for all Californians. You do this primarily in the public health system where most of our nurses work and by partnering with allies to address healthcare costs, quality and access through the state legislative or budget process. This could be in the foster care system or by lobbying for full practice authority for our Nurse Practitioners that would improve care to the under-served in California (AB 890 – Wood).
As union members you worked to ensure that hospitals follow Title 22 the staffing ratio law in order for nurses to provide safe patient care. SEIU Local 121RN (our private sector Local) led the way to the passage of SB 227 (Leyva), joining forces with all SEIU California nurses through State Council and the Nurse Alliance of California. This new law will cite hospitals that violate the law without having to put our patients at risk. You have nurses like Gayle Batiste, the nurses from her Local and actually all of your Locals to thank for SEIU nurses now having the ability to be the true patient advocates that you’ve always been so proud to be.
As patient advocates we recognize that our patients cannot be safe if the nurses that care for them aren’t; SEIU California nurses work to address safety standards through the Cal OSHA regulatory process. Your goal continues to be seeking regulations for safe ventilation during smoke generating procedures and workplace violence prevention – general industry. Nurses, like Marilyn Mara from SEIU Local 521, see the bigger picture as community advocates to protect immigrant families from the proposed Public Charge rule which rips away the medical and other critical programs that help families survive. She understands that this proposal is an attack on immigrant families and their right to healthcare, nutrition, housing and other vital services. Which is why she is using her most trusted voice as a nurse and professional to call out this injustice.
Our nurses advocate for their profession and patients through contract negotiations and memorandums of understanding with their employers that address safety issues, like mandatory overtime. Mandatory overtime was a condition of employment for our SEIU Local 1000’s state nurses. Nurses know that working excessive hours puts your patient’s safety and life at risk, not to mention the risk to the nurse’s well-being. You fought hard to eliminate this practice and we all look forward to the time when this practice is eliminated entirely.
You don’t limit your advocacy to just where you work or live. As nurse leaders, you address legislation on a national level by recognizing that the rights and protections that we enjoy here in California are needed nationally. Every nurse deserves to be able to practice their profession safely and every patient or client deserves to have safe, quality care. Registered Nurses, like Maria Elena Diaz, take that seriously when reaching out to members of Congress seeking support for The National Nurse Act of 2019 that would designate the Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service and elevate the authority and visibility of public health nursing. SEIU nurses have also lobbied on a national level for safe staffing and workplace violence prevention.
SEIU Nurse Alliance of California is proud to represent our 35,000 Registered Nurses and it’s impossible to highlight all of the amazing work that you do, but we wanted to give you an idea of what’s possible when you are a union nurse. SEIU nurses will continue to lead the way on issues that impact your patients, your practice, your health and safety or that of the communities you serve!