IAM Healthcare, a national movement of more than 10,000 health professionals within the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), is issuing a call for safe staffing in America’s skilled nursing facilities. The IAM joined the AFL-CIO and other unions in requesting that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issue “a robust national staffing standard in the near future.”

Citing the urgent need to improve patient and worker safety, the union coalition sent a letter highlighting the struggles of Nursing staff “who are responsible for as many as 20 residents on a shift and who must make impossible choices about prioritizing services.” The letter cites studies establishing clear links between staffing levels and quality of care. It also notes that U.S. President Joe Biden came out in support of a national staffing standard last year.

“We need safe staffing to support America’s seniors, disabled veterans, and other patients who depend on specialized care provided by IAM Healthcare members,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “We stand with President Biden and our labor allies in calling for a national staffing standard, now CMS must move quickly to release strong requirements for public review.” 

The letter also addresses the healthcare staffing crisis by pointing out that a robust staffing standard will improve the work lives of nursing home employees, which will facilitate the recruitment and retention of skilled professionals. Noting that most for-profit nursing homes remained profitable through the COVID-19 pandemic, the unions effectively debunk industry arguments against staffing requirements.

“Much of the industry is guilty of chronic understaffing as a business model, essentially producing a labor shortage by stretching healthcare workers to their limits and then using it as a circular defense of their staffing practices,” said IAM Healthcare Director Shane Brinton. “A national staffing standard will force companies to invest in patients and the health professionals who care for them.”

IAM Healthcare members work at skilled nursing facilities throughout the U.S., including Beechtree Center Rehabilitation & Nursing in New York, Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in Maryland, Bayside Village Nursing Home in Michigan, Marshfield Care Center in Wisconsin, Good Samaritan Society and Pennington Health Services in Minnesota, Cascadia Health in Idaho, and Evergreen Washington Healthcare in Washington state. IAM Healthcare membership is also growing rapidly in Canada, where the IAM represents thousands of long-term care professionals in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and home care programs.

For more information on IAM Healthcare, including how to organize a union in your workplace, visit iamhealthcarepros.org or call the IAM Healthcare national office at 301-967-4725.

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