Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, few workers have struggled as much as healthcare workers. Doctors and nurses put their lives and safety on the line to treat patients who are hurt and sick, often without adequate protective gear and the support they need to do their jobs properly.
And unfortunately, too many Michigan nurses continue to experience dangerous, unmanageable work conditions because of inaction by their employers. One study showed that over 9 percent of nurses plan to leave the profession due to their experiences during COVID-19.
How hospitals fail nurses
Over the last year and a half, many hospitals and clinics have at some point been overcapacity and lacking adequate supplies to protect workers and patients.
Numerous hospitals overcame these challenges without putting avoidable strain on workers or further jeopardizing their health. Unfortunately, this was not the case everywhere. In facilities across the state, nurses have reported:
- Inadequate staffing resulting in unmanageable patient loads
- Unsafe environments for patients and workers
- Unhygienic, unsanitary conditions
- Lack of COVID-19 protocols
These issues created very real threats to the safety and health of the nurses and those for whom they care. And while the pandemic has strained staffing levels throughout U.S. hospitals, there have reportedly been many that willfully refused to address grievances by nurses.
Thus, many nurses have reportedly been in favor of striking.
A difficult decision for nurses
Nurses dedicate themselves to helping others; stepping away from that role to strike is not something they take lightly. But strikes can be an effective way for union workers to get employers to take their concerns seriously.
Hospitals that fail to take care of their staff and patients put their bottom line over the wellbeing of those they serve. And some hope to get away with this by offering insignificant financial incentives or quick fixes that do not result in real change.
Thus, it can take coordinated, aggressive efforts to prompt meaningful action.
More than pandemic concerns
Nurses already face incredible challenges in their occupations. They work with sick, injured people who are scared and angry. They provide medical care as well as emotional support that dramatically affects the patient experience. And nurses do this while working long hours and juggling significant patient loads.
The pandemic has only exacerbated problems and put nurses in more danger.
When hospitals and employers fail to take steps to protect union workers, the nurses must consider what they can do to protect themselves and demand changes.
Getting advice from skilled labor lawyers at Miller Cohen will help them find their way through the complicated laws that govern their right to strike.