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Coalition: Hospital staffing crisis isn’t going away, neither are we

SEATTLE (March 9, 2022) — The WA Safe + Healthy coalition (SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, UFCW 3000, and the Washington State Nurses Association) released the following joint statement Tuesday on the Washington State Senate’s failure to pass HB 1868, safe staffing standards for healthcare workers:

Throughout the pandemic, our state’s healthcare workers have put their own health and safety at risk to take care of our families, despite so many being burned out and at their breaking points because of years of staffing recruitment and retention issues.

Washington healthcare workers have been clear that the only way to solve the staffing crisis is to address the unmitigated burnout with safe staffing standards that ensure manageable workloads so healthcare workers can give patients the care they deserve. By their own admission, hospital executives have known about safe staffing concerns for years. Unfortunately, healthcare workers have been ignored and let down by hospital executives.

Now certain state lawmakers have let down healthcare workers as well.

The crisis isn’t going away. Half of healthcare workers say they’re likely to quit healthcare within the next few years. Among those likely to quit, 71 percent say staffing problems are among the biggest reasons. This is reinforced by data on Washington’s healthcare workforce – only half of active licensed nurses in Washington are currently employed in Washington’s healthcare workforce. There isn’t a shortage of workers, just a shortage of workers willing to work under the conditions hospital executives have created.

Thousands of healthcare workers, patients, and patient advocacy groups sent letters to their lawmakers, testified in committee, and added their names in support of safe staffing standards, and 74 percent of Washington voters supported creating safe staffing standards. By not passing safe staffing standards this session, a handful of lawmakers have allowed hospital executives to continue putting profits above patient care.

But we’re not giving up. We’ll continue to fight for safe staffing standards, whether in the Legislature, at the bargaining table, or on the ballot. We need these critical protections, for the health and safety of Washington healthcare workers and patients.

●  Jane Hopkins, executive vice president, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
●  Faye Guenther, president, UFCW 3000
●  David Keepnews, executive director, Washington State Nurses Association

The WA Safe + Healthy campaign is a coalition of healthcare workers and patients calling on Washington legislators to pass safe staffing standards for the health and safety of both workers and patients. Collectively, the Washington State Nurses Association, UFCW 3000 and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW represent more than 71,000 healthcare workers in the state of Washington. Learn more at

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