Berry: Does SB5 Harm Nurses?Written by Thomas Berry | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Opponents to Issue 2 claim that SB5, which would be repealed if Issue 2 fails, will cause harm to nurses. Quoting from the We are Ohio website, http://action.weareohio.com/page/s/issue2primer:
“Issue 2 will make our nursing shortage worse. It makes it illegal for nurses, hospital and clinic workers to demand reasonable and safe staffing levels—so nurses will juggle more patients while their salaries and benefits are cut.”
This claim is also made in a We are Ohio television ad.
The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) summarizes their position against Issue 2 as follows:
(SB5) . . . would strip public workers of their rights to collectively bargain for fair and equitable workplace conditions. For nurses, it’s a matter of life or death (emphasis theirs) Collective bargaining allows us to advocate for protections that directly affect patient safety and care. This includes making sure nurses aren’t assigned to too many patients at once or forced to work long, overtime hours that lead to burnt (sic) out and injury, and make them unable to effectively care for patients (from http://www.nfn.org/archives/1559).
Like We are Ohio’s site, both this ONA site and the one detailing ONA’s arguments (see http://www.nursesrepealsb5.org/know-the-facts.html) are rich in talking points but devoid of supporting evidence. Given the total failure of the opposition to back up their claims with citations from SB5, we can only search the text of the law and guess at what the opponents are referring to.
After ruling out any other rational possibilities from the results of my search of the text, what apparently has the opponents exercised is Sec. 339.07 (B). This section states that the administrators of county hospitals “shall ensure that the hospital has such physicians, nurses, and other employees as are necessary for the proper care, control, and management of the county hospital and its patients.” This is repeated in Sec. 749.083 (B) in the context of non-profit hospitals.
Based on this evidence from SB5 itself, the arguments made by We are Ohio and the ONA are illogical and flawed. They claim that SB5 will result in unsafe and unreasonable staffing levels in hospitals. But the language of the bill flatly contradicts this claim, unless one is willing to believe that hospital administrators are inherently so incompetent that they are incapable of fulfilling the law’s requirement to provide proper staffing.
Moreover, this argument is also based on deceit. As noted in the Columbus Dispatch’s Campaign Ad Watch analysis of the aforementioned TV ad, nurses do not have the right to negotiate staffing levels. The Dispatch notes that, under current law, nurses’ committees can suggest staffing levels to hospitals, but the levels are not subject to collective bargaining. SB5 not only does not mandate staffing levels for nurses, as opponents suggest; it also does not change current law regarding negotiation of staffing levels. (Neither does SB5 cut salaries and benefits, nor does it restrict or ban collective bargaining; but those are broader topics for later discussions.)
The intent of this argument against SB5 is not to inform, but to induce panic among the uninformed. Please, do not take the opponents at their word. Neither do I want you to take me at mine. Do what I did: Study the bill for yourself and see what it says. SB5′s text is at http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/BillText129/129_SB_5_EN_N.pdf, and it’s fully searchable.
I am Ohio, and so is every Ohioan who favors Issue 2.
Thomas Berry, for the Children of Liberty, http://www.meetup.com/The-children-of-liberty/.