With the second nurse now being infected with Ebola in the United States, the eyes of the American people turn to the threat of Ebola, the health and safety of the general public and the health and safety of the health care professionals who provide front line care to patients.
The Ebola outbreak reminds us once again of the essential importance of workers having a voice in the workplace through collective bargaining. Union rights and collective bargaining give workers a vehicle to speak up about unsafe working conditions, improper safety equipment and proper workplace procedures. No one knows better what is needed on the job than the workers who do the work day in and day out.
“Every health care professional should be assured that the proper protocols and safety equipment are available and being used,” said Candice Owley, President of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, AFT. “We are deeply devastated by the fact that two nurses, and potentially others, were infected due to a breakdown in protocol. The breakdown in the system that has led to nurses contracting Ebola detail how important it is for nurses to have an independent voice in the workplace. We call on lawmakers to ensure strong whistleblower protections for all health care staff who speak out on behalf of themselves or their patients.”
“In times like these we value the voice of our union nurses more than ever,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Union nurses and health professionals have the unique ability to speak out, to speak the truth and sound the alarm on public safety without fear of being fired. Unions fight for protective safety equipment for workers and effective safety protocols that protect both workers and the public. When health professionals stand up for themselves, they are standing up for their patients and for the health and safety of the general public.”