Seeking Advantage, Unions Blame Hospitals for Staffing Crisis

By January 20, 2022Uncategorized

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted hospitals like nothing we have ever seen before. What started as a public health crisis has resulted in an unprecedented disruption of the entire healthcare workforce. In fact, the impact is so severe we will likely be dealing with staffing shortages for a significant period going forward – long after COVID subsides.

Unfortunately, our challenges are opportunities for unions like National Nurses United (NNU). The organizing team at NNU understands the addage, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” So NNU leaders are working overtime to forward a false narrative that goes something like this: “Greed, on the part of healthcare leaders, is the real cause of the staffing crisis – not COVID-19.” Below are some examples of how the NNU is forwarding this false narrative:

  • December, 2020: NNU releases “Deadly Shame” videos and a report entitled, Deadly Shame: Addressing the Devaluation of Registered Nurse Labor through Pandemic Equity.
  • December, 2021: NNU releases a report entitled, Protecting Our Front Line: Ending the Shortage of Good Nursing Jobs and the Industry-Created Unsafe Staffing Crisis. 
  • January, 2022: NNU holds a National Day of Action press conference to demand the hospital industry invest in safe staffing, and to demand that President Biden follow through on his campaign promise to protect nurses and prioritize public health.”

From the beginning, NNU leaders have sought to use this crisis to spread the false and misleading narrative that somehow healthcare leaders are responsible for the current staffing crisis and that hospitals are deliberately understaffing patient care units to increase profits.

Yesterday, this narrative made its way into the opinion section of the New York Times in an article and video entitled: We Know the Real Cause of the Crisis in Our Hospitals. It’s Greed. (click here to read article)

Thankfully, the American Hospital Association quickly issued a response to set the record straight (click here to read the AHA response).

NNU leaders are trying to boost membership, dues income, and the political power of their union.

The challenges facing healthcare organizations and employees are real and we should honor and respect those who are on the frontline facing these challenges. At the same time, we should encourage our employees to question the motives of groups like the NNU, who seek to use the pandemic for their own financial and political gain.

Remember, the NNU is not seeking to foster unity – unity is not good for their business model. NNU organizers know that they have a much better chance of organizing thousands of new nurse members if staff nurses and nurse leaders are divided.

Unfortunately, the confusion and stress created by the pandemic has given the NNU a golden opportunity to create that division – and they seem determined not to let that opportunity go to waste.

Nurse unions – like NNU – betray the public trust when they put their own financial and political objectives above what’s really in the best interest of healthcare employees, patients, and communities.