<<Long Islanders Launch 'Nursing Quality of Care' Campaign
Long Island, NY
April 5, 2002, -
Nurses are regularly being required to work beyond their usual shifts because of inadequate staffing in hospitals and nursing homes. Concerned about patient safety, Long Island labor, religious, consumer, and professional organizations together are launching a petition campaign urging the state to enact laws that would ban mandatory overtime for nurses.
The campaign is being conducted by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the Long Island Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO), and the Long Island Labor Religion Coalition. Other participating unions include the Public Employees Federation and CSEA.
"Nurses who work excessive hours are more likely to make mistakes, are prone to injury, and experience high levels of job stress," said Robert Piemonte, RN, president of NYSNA. "Employers must take responsibility for filling staff vacancies and providing sufficient staff, without relying upon mandatory overtime as a staffing tool."
"Requiring nurses to work beyond their scheduled shifts is an issue that affects all of us, not just nurses," said Jack Caffey, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor. "Consumers of health care need laws that protect us from poor quality care."
Proposed legislation to ban employer abuse of mandatory overtime is currently before the New York State Legislature. The measure prohibits healthcare employers from forcing nurses to remain on duty beyond their regularly scheduled shifts, except in declared emergencies. It also stipulates that nurses who refuse to work overtime cannot be charged with patient abandonment or neglect.
Mandatory overtime was a key issue in the recent nurses' strike at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, where 450 nurses represented by NYSNA walked the picket lines for three months. The practice of forced overtime continues to be a concern for nurses and patients throughout the state and nation. Several states have already enacted laws restricting the use of overtime for nurses and similar measures have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate.
Copies of the petition will be distributed on April 8 at a Congressional forum sponsored by the Long Island Federation of Labor.
The Long Island Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, includes 88 unions representing 140,000 workers in Nassau and Suffolk counties. NYSNA is the professional association and labor union for registered nurses in New York, with more than 33,000 members statewide.>>