Proposed state Senate budget denies our wage increases and staffing improvements

Our 27.5% wage increases in our state contract are at risk and we need to take immediate action for staffing in our hospitals.

State Senate Republicans released a proposed budget that denied funding for our contract and patient care improvements. This will harm both patients and frontline staff.

Instead of honoring our negotiated contract with 27.5% wage increases to bring us to community standards, the Senate proposed a plan that would give us only a flat sum of $500 per year, far short of the investment we know is needed to help us keep staff in our hospitals and facilities.

For frontline nurses who have already received the 27.5% increase in incremental steps in September and February, this proposed budget would result in a 27.5% pay cut from our current paychecks. Nurses who were on track to receive the 27.5% increase July 1, 2017 would not receive it under this proposal and would instead remain at their current rate, below market standard.

The Senate Republican budget also closes some wards at Western State and proposes to close Fircrest School.

We know this is unacceptable. Losing these wage increases and closing wards and facilities leaves our patients without the care they need. When we’re not competitive with area hospitals we can’t keep the new nurses we have trained on our wards, and many of our most experienced nurses would seek jobs elsewhere. When we’re short staffed we know that both patients and staff are at higher risk of assault, and the backlog to get patients on or off wards, connect them to services, or investigate complaints will only increase.

Our state needs new revenue to ensure we can fund all of our state’s priorities. But right now instead of investing in good schools for our kids and healthcare that helps everyone be well, the budget from state Senate Republicans is giving corporations tax breaks instead. Hundreds of tax giveaways for special interests and corporations are clogging our tax code – some of them have been in place for decades. Right now our tax code is so upside down we’re in last place, behind every other state in our nation and families like ours pay 7 times more than wealthy individuals in taxes.

If we “clean up” the tax code we will raise $4.4 billion that we can use on the foundations we all benefit from: good schools, healthcare, and roads that work for all of us.

We need to call on our Senators to:

  • Fully fund our contract. Invest in wage increases so that we have the right staff to keep patients and nurses safe in our hospitals and facilities. We need to attract new nurses and keep those with experience.
  • Stop giving away money to wealthy corporations.  They need to do their part!
  • Support new revenue in our state so that we have the resources to support healthcare, education, and transportation. This means the wealthy need to pay their fair share when they sell their stocks and bonds, and big corporate polluters should pay a tax that invests back in our communities.

Call today – 1-800-562-6000 and urge your Senator to fully fund our contract and support new revenue.

Early next week the House will release their proposed budget and then the House and Senate will come together to begin working on a compromise. Legislators need to hear from us so they know how critical it is to have enough staff in our hospitals and facilities.

“Ensuring our contract is fully funded is going to take all of us. Right now we need to take action and let our senators know ignoring our contract is not okay. Each of us needs to call our senator and explain first hand why our work is important to our community. They need to fund our contract with the 27.5% so we can retain and recruit quality nurses.”
Melissa Staples, RN3, Eastern State Hospital

“We have been working really hard to be the best we can be. That’s why we’ve spent the last four years working to retain nurses, bring in new ones, and continue to raise standards. Raising wages to bring in the right people from the start and ensure they can stay is more cost effective and makes more sense than continually training new people.”
Erica Horton, RN, Lakeland Village

“We all need to know what’s happening with the budget process so we can take collective action to make sure that we’re heard. The way we are going to get our contract funded is through all of us doing things like emails and phone calls to legislators.”
Sammy Statler, RN3, Western State Hospital

March 24th, 2017

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