There is a saying about politics: “Laws are like sausages. It is best not to see them being made.” On the nurse staffing bill, SHB 1155, there is some very rancid sausage being made.
In a surprise amendment to the nurse staffing bill, the Senate added a provision that would limit nurses to working only eight hours in a 24-hour period. This would be a strict prohibition, with no exemptions for emergencies or patient safety. Nurses could not choose to work more if they wanted to. A nurse could be in the middle of a life-saving surgical procedure and there would be no exception to allow them to stay and complete their work. WSHA did not support and had no knowledge of this amendment.
This would also change the standard schedule for nurses, who mostly work three 12-hour shifts a week — a schedule that was developed primarily at their request. If the amendment becomes law, nurses would need to work five days a week to earn full-time pay.
We are hopeful the nursing unions – SEIU 1199NW, UFCW, and WSNA – will join us in strongly advocating for removing this amendment.
We need your action. Please tell your House members how bad this would be. Please tell your nurses what is happening and ask them to call their unions and their House members. Tell them to oppose the eight-hour work limit amendment to SHB 1155.
If SHB 1155 passes as amended, I am confident that hospitals will not be able to meet the care needs of their communities. Patients will suffer, especially in emergencies. This would be terrible for the patients of Washington State.