Diane Sosne, RN, MN
President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

Diane Sosne leads the 26,000 member union SEIU Healthcare 1199NW for nurses, healthcare, and mental health workers in Washington State. She advocates for safe staffing and lifting for nurses, workforce training funds for healthcare workers to advance into nursing, and social justice issues for working families. Diane is a founding member of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, and was previously a psychiatric nurse at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. She currently sits on the International Executive Board for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Diane Sosne in the News:

Proposed Budget:
Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Tacoma News Tribune

This op-ed by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW President Diane Sosne, RN appeared in the Jan. 4 edition of the Tacoma News Tribune.

You are pregnant. Here is your choice:

Option A: Pre-natal health screening and expert guidance on how to have a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Option B: Go without the help and increase the risk of having a difficult pregnancy, premature birth and/or post-partum complications.

You are a taxpayer. Here is your choice:

Option A costs $785.

Option B costs $52,000 for a pre-term birth. Or perhaps $500,000 if the baby needs care in the hospital neonatal intensive care unit.

The correct answer is pretty obvious, yet Washington state is right now choosing Option B – bad for moms, bad for taxpayers.

Read more…

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Remarks: Gov Gregoire takes immediate steps to implement healthcare reform in WA state

Gov. Chris Gregoire unveiled a proposal to get Washington state ready to implement healthcare reform as components of the law begin to take effect.

“Healthcare reform will benefit millions here in Washington, provide healthcare for those who couldn’t afford it before, help small business owners save money on employee coverage and improve the health of all our residents,” said Gregoire. “Washington is going to lead the nation in implementing healthcare reform, we’re going to help more people get coverage, make sure our healthcare industry is ready and save taxpayer dollars.”

Read President Diane Sosne’s remarks at the April 1, 2010 press conference with Governor Chris Gregoire.

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Forum on the Future of Nursing

To adequately prepare nurses for their pivotal leadership roles in tomorrow’s healthcare system, and to educate enough nurses to meet the needs, nursing education needs to change. The focus of these changes must emphasize safety,chronic disease management, preventative care, care coordination, utilization of new technology and multidisciplinary care delivery for a very diverse population in multiple and nontraditional settings.

Read Diane Sosne’s testimony from the IOM Forum on the Future of Nursing in Houston on February 22.

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Seattle Times Op-Ed: State employees are paying their share of healthcare

Seattle Times: March 10, 2010

Diane Sosne, RN, President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

SCOTT Canaday may have to choose between the radiation-therapy treatments he needs and paying his mortgage. If his health-care costs keep increasing, “I will pay my mortgage and have to skip treatment,” he says.

Like so many of us, Scott is having to make difficult choices because his health-care costs keep rising.

Does Scott work for a struggling small business? A local retail outlet? A manufacturing company? No, Scott is a state employee, one of 110,000 public servants who go to work every day to provide us with healthcare, teach our kids, fix our roads and bridges, maintain our parks and keep our communities safe.

Sunday’s Times article, “How state workers’ pay really stacks up” shows that state employee wages aren’t out of line compared with the rest of the job market. But the article left unchallenged the assertion that Scott and his colleagues have “a Cadillac health-insurance benefit.”

Every month, Scott and his colleagues pay on average 12 percent of the premium cost of their health benefit. If he worked at another major Washington employer, like Boeing, Microsoft or Swedish Medical Center, he would pay no premium. If he worked at Safeway or Fred Meyer, he would pay 4.5 percent.

Every time Scott and his colleagues go to see a doctor, they pay 15 percent of the costs, up 50 percent over last year. For state employees in the Group Health plan, every doctor’s visit costs $30. Employee prescription costs have doubled in the last year. Emergency-room costs for employees have gone up 50 percent. Deductibles went up. Out-of-pocket maximums went up.

This past year, state employees accepted $117 million in additional out-of-pocket charges on their medical plan, according to the state’s Healthcare Authority. That works out to nearly $1,100 per year for every active state employee. This sacrifice is on top of wage freezes for most state employees, more than 2,500 layoffs in the last year, and the coming prospect of furloughs and more layoffs in 2010.

We recognize times are tough for all working families in our state; what’s less recognized is the sacrifices our state employees have made, and will continue to make, as stakeholders in solving the state’s financial woes. State employees shouldn’t shoulder an unfair burden in solving our state’s budget problem.

Like so many state employees, Scott has special skills and training, and he could make more money in the private sector.

We’re lucky Scott has chosen to stay in state service. He’s an angio technologist at Harborview Medical Center, our premier regional emergency and trauma center. Scott takes angiograms of brain aneurysms and detects major problems before they kill. He saves your friends, your family members, maybe even you.

So the next time we think about cuts to state employee compensation, think about Scott and all the other state employees who serve the public with dedication and sacrifice every day.

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Diane Sosne, MN, RN, is president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, a union representing 22,000 health-care workers statewide, including 2,000 state employees.

Originally published Friday, February 1, 2008

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In housing we trust

Hundreds of concerned citizens fanned out into our local community in the early hours of Jan. 25, counting people who are homeless. The preliminary estimate was some 8,600 individuals living in cars, under bridges, and in doorways, alleys, shelters and temporary housing — about 15 percent more than last year.

By Bill Hobson and Diane Sosne

Hundreds of concerned citizens fanned out into our local community in the early hours of Jan. 25, counting people who are homeless. The preliminary estimate was some 8,600 individuals living in cars, under bridges, and in doorways, alleys, shelters and temporary housing — about 15 percent more than last year.

The number includes military veterans struggling to get back to normalcy, folks suffering from mental illness or drug dependency, and women escaping domestic violence.

Our local tragedy is just part of the national shame. Despite our unmatched wealth, vision and creativity, we as a country have failed to commit sufficient resources to the simple proposition that everyone should have a roof over their heads at night.

We won’t end homelessness overnight, but every county in this state now has a plan to do it within the next 10 years. To achieve this goal, we need a major increase of investment dollars that produce affordable housing.

The state’s Housing Trust Fund is a critical source of such money and the state Legislature can advance the cause of ending homelessness by increasing it by $100 million.

The trust fund is the state’s primary response to the problem of lack of affordable housing. Since 1987, the fund, which stands at $130 million for this biennium, has supported the construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of 32,000 affordable homes in every corner of our state.

Money from the fund supports rental and homeownership opportunities for families, at-risk youth and children, senior citizens, farmworkers, and people with chronic mental illness.

Trust-fund dollars also assist low-income first-time homeowners with down payments, and help communities preserve their investments through rehabilitation of existing structures, among other benefits.

The trust fund is a proven, effective use of tax dollars. Through public-private partnerships, it leverages nearly $5 from other funding sources for every taxpayer dollar put into it.

In King County, the trust fund has been used to make prudent investments in housing for chronically homeless people. The Downtown Emergency Service Center’s 1811 Eastlake and Plymouth on Stewart apartment projects combined to eliminate more than $3.5 million of taxpayer-funded expenses in local jails and hospitals by providing stable housing and support services for residents.

In addition to the thousands of homeless people in our communities, more than 250,000 Washington families lack safe, stable, affordable housing. As the mortgage-foreclosure crisis grows, that number will only get larger.

Last month, Gov. Christine Gregoire proposed adding $50 million to the Housing Trust Fund in 2008. We hope that in the current legislative session, our political leaders will build on the governor’s start and add a full $100 million to the fund.

Such an investment would achieve lasting improvements in the lives of thousands of Washingtonians. Everyone in our community deserves a safe, secure place to live.

Bill Hobson is executive director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center in Seattle. Diane Sosne is president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, the union representing health-care workers across the state.

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Remembering the
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Reflections from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW President Diane Sosne, RN on Her Grandmother

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW President Diane Sosne, RN was one of thousands of workers and community members who gathered in New York last Friday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

It was a special moment for Sosne because her maternal grandmother was working on the 8th floor of the factory the day the fire broke out on March 25, 1911. Miraculously, Sosne’s grandmother, Rose Bernstein, was able to make it down the stairs and survived the tragic fire.

The fire took the lives of 146 workers–mostly women–who were locked in the burning building and galvanized New York City and the nation to fight for workplace protections, spurred on union organizing, and inspired far-reaching reforms for workplace safety and workers’ rights.

Rose Bernstein left Poland with her sister when she as just 16 years old and immigrated to America through Ellis Island in New York. She had started at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory as a machine operator just a year before the fire and it was one of her first jobs in America.

One hundred years later, Sosne says that workers face a lot of the same conditions. “We have to keep fighting because there’s nobody looking out for us and our safety,” she said.

A former psychiatric nurse at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, Sosne says that healthcare is one of the most dangerous professions today and that healthcare workers continue to fight for safe staffing levels, health and safety training, protection from hazardous materials, and other dangers.

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