Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

For Immediate Release

Press Release

Nurses Applaud 21 Senators for Urging Biden to Immediately Issue Permanent Osha Protections for Health Care Workers

WASHINGTON -

National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses, today commended the 21 U.S. senators, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who sent a letter to President Biden and Secretary Walsh urging the administration to quickly issue a final permanent Covid-19 OSHA standard for health care workers. This letter follows a similar letter sent to the President by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12) and signed by 115 members of the House of Representatives.

The letter was signed by Senators Warren (D-MA), Baldwin (D-WI), Sanders (I-VT), Brown (D-OH), Wyden (D-OR), Duckworth (D-IL), Blumenthal (D-CT), Smith (D-MN), Whitehouse (D-RI), Markey (D-MA), Schumer (D-NY), Padilla (D-CA), Menendez (D-NJ), Hirono (D-HI), Booker (D-NJ), Peters (D-MI), Kaine (D-VA), Van Hollen (D-MD), Stabenow (D-MI), and Murphy (D-CT).

On Dec. 27, OSHA announced its plan to rescind a hard-won emergency temporary standard (ETS)—adopted in June to mandate health care worker protections—with no permanent standard in place. The letter sent by the senators today states, “...[T]he lapse of the temporary standard signals that OSHA no longer retains the necessary robust enforcement authority to provide adequate protections for health care workers, nor will there be a standard to provide adequate transparency or predictability for employees and their employers in evaluating health care workplace practices.” The letter acknowledges what nurses already know — that leaving nurses and health care workers without an enforceable standard in the midst of another catastrophic Covid surge across the country is dangerous for both workers and their patients.

In recent weeks, Covid-19 infections have been surging across the country, and nurses are witnessing a steep increase in hospitalizations. The existence of an enforceable federal standard to protect health care workers is fundamental to ensuring that nurses and health care workers are given the protections they need to do their jobs safely during this surge. The letter follows the legal petition filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by NNU, the AFL-CIO, and other health care worker unions, to require OSHA to issue a permanent standard to protect health care workers and retain the emergency temporary standard until the permanent standard goes into effect.

“It is critical that the federal government ensures that nurses and other health care workers are getting the protections we need to do our jobs safely, without putting ourselves or our families at risk of Covid exposure,” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN. “We can’t safely care for our patients if we are sick ourselves. We thank Senator Gillibrand, Leader Schumer, and every senator who signed this letter, for standing in solidarity with nurses across the country, and for fighting for the protections that we need to do our jobs safely during this pandemic. The Biden Administration must quickly issue a final permanent Covid-19 health care standard—and retain the emergency temporary standard until the permanent standard goes into effect—before one more nurse is sidelined, lost to the profession, or lost to this world for good.”

“OSHA’s emergency standard was absolutely necessary to protect our nation’s health care workers. Implementing a permanent standard will both ensure health care workers have the protections needed to continue their lifesaving work and mitigate the spread of Covid-19,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I urge the Biden administration to take immediate action to issue a rule that will protect health care workers serving on the front lines of this pandemic. As we continue to see record burnout among our health care workforce two years into the pandemic, it is necessary to keep these protections in place to provide the accountability and transparency needed to keep our patients, workers, and communities healthy.” 

To draw attention to the failure of the federal government and health care employers to protect patients, nurses, and other health care and frontline workers, National Nurses United is holding a national day of action and virtual press conference on Jan. 13. RNs emphasize that optimal protections save lives. As of Jan. 11, 481 RNs have died of Covid-19, among 4,760 health care worker deaths overall, according to NNU tracking data. To date, more than 1.1 million U.S. health care workers have been infected. In Washington, D.C., the day of action will include a candlelight vigil outside of the White House to honor those nurses who have died during this pandemic.

###

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo