FOP Joins Collective Letter from First Responder Labor Groups in Support of HB 1155
Healthcare Worker Meal & Rest Breaks
April 22, 2019
We are writing to you today to ask that you support a version of the Healthcare Worker Meal & Rest Breaks bill that protects all healthcare workers and in all hospitals in Washington State. The version that most recently passed out of the Senate exempted Critical Access Hospitals, as well as a broad swath of hospital technical workers. We work closely with workers in these settings, and see no valid public policy reason to treat these workers in these communities differently that everyone else in healthcare settings, and other workers in other industries more broadly.
As first responders, we take a great deal of pride in the service we provide for our communities – we take great risks to ensure that members of our communities are safe during their most trying times. The nurses, surgical techs, nursing assistants, and other front line hospital workers are also there for us, and our communities, during our most trying times. Unfortunately, their employers have not respected that dedication, and have adopted employment practices that deny these workers access to the most basic of workers’ rights – meal and rest breaks. Further, they have adopted policies that stretch workers beyond reasonable limits of their work day by requiring mandatory overtime, even after a twelve hour shift during which no breaks were taken, and no rest provided.
We understand that scheduling in a healthcare setting can be hard, but it is not impossible. Twenty other states have adopted similar policies, and they have not carved out hospitals based on their federal Critical Access designation or the rural nature of their service area. These are basic values that we have all come to expect for all workers, but especially for those whose jobs are so physical, so stressful, and so exposed to hazards like those who work in hospitals. We understand that stress, and the impact it has on our lives, and as a result we have earned accommodations in our employment to ensure we are protected. We should extend the same consideration to the workers that care for the patients that we bring them.