WASHINGTON, April 20, 2023 – IAM Healthcare, a voice of more than 10,000 health professionals within the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), announced its support for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (HR.2663/S.1176). Introduced in Congress this week by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the bipartisan legislation would require the creation of a federal standard directing employers in the healthcare industry to develop comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans.
“The extreme violence, harassment, and fear that healthcare professionals face just to go to work and care for their patients is unacceptable,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “IAM Healthcare members support this critical legislation, not only for their own safety but for the millions of Americans whose quality of care is impacted because healthcare corporations fail to implement effective violence prevention measures.”
Highlighting the ripple effects of workplace violence in healthcare settings, IAM leaders pointed to a recent research review that found “…the negative implications of such widespread violence in healthcare sectors have a significant impact on the delivery of healthcare services, including a decline in the quality of care….”
According to IAM Healthcare and other industry experts, the decline in quality is compounded by an exodus of overwhelmed and burnt-out healthcare workers from their professions. Research also shows a clear link between exposure to both primary and secondary workplace violence and mental health struggles among nursing staff.
“As a husband and father of nurses, I’ve seen the sacrifices they and their colleagues have made to provide the best care for patients,” said IAM Resident General Vice President Brian Bryant. “Our healthcare heroes need more than just words of gratitude; they need employers to take responsibility for providing workplaces free from violence – this bill will finally hold employers accountable for doing that.”
The legislation will cover a wide array of workplaces, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, home health programs, behavioral health facilities, and other health care and social service settings. Employers will be required to review and address security procedures, patient care policies, staffing, training, built environment, and record keeping, among other factors.
The comprehensive planning process must also include employee input at every step. When combined with the power of collective bargaining and professional representation enjoyed by IAM Healthcare members, this will provide even greater leverage for health professionals to participate in developing meaningful solutions.
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.