The Sunday Observer: How hospitals stood up to nursing unions
One of the biggest battles in the Legislature this year has been between the Washington Hospital Association and the unions that represent the nurses and nursing assistants who work in its hospitals.
The thing they were arguing over was the 1868 House Bill, which would have established minimum nurse-patient ratios in hospitals, among other workplace protections. For example, one nurse for every three patients in the emergency department would have been needed, with a one-to-one ratio for trauma patients.
In theory, it was an ideal year to pass this bill. Nurses, always appreciated by the public, are among the heroes of the pandemic. Who would vote against the reduction of their charges?
The bill had dozens of co-sponsors in Democratic majorities in the Legislative Assembly, but died without a vote at the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 28, about two weeks after it passed the House 55- 43 on a mostly partisan line. vote. The fact of his death isn’t really news; Jerry Cornfield of The Herald documented it at the time, along with the pros and cons.
The story we are going to tell is about How? ‘Or’ What he came to die at the hands of a well-orchestrated lobbying campaign both in the halls of Olympia and in the court of public opinion. It’s a story that stretches back to the 2020 election in time and from the Olympic Peninsula to the Colville Indian Reservation in geography. It’s a story of political money, expensive lobbying campaigns and the tactical value of bringing the right voice to the debate.
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