April 24, 2014

Health care workers seek end to mandatory overtime

HCOvertime2Healthcare workers rallied at the state Capitol, to push for end of mandatory overtime. It’s an issue that’s come before the Wisconsin legislature a number of times in the past without ever advancing.

Diane Palmer is a Registered Nurse and President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. “Studies show that a nurse that’s very tired when she’s working is equivalent to somebody who’s intoxicated,” Palmer said. “Patient care is our number one issue, although it does disrupt personal lives and families when a healthcare worker is mandated. No healthcare worker wants to do a patient harm, and when you’re working more than your scheduled number of hours unexpectedly, there’s a risk.”

Palmer said the amount of mandated overtime hours varies by facility. “Our workers at Wisconsin Veterans Home are mandated 16 hours additional per week in some instances,” she said. “That means they work another 4 hours of a shift after they’ve competed their regular 8 hour shift.”

That, Palmer said, is the result of Act 10. She said UW Hospitals in Madison are contractually prohibited from imposing mandatory overtime, but employees believe that could change. Health care workers rallied at the Capitol Tuesday in support of a variety of measures their unions say will improve patient care and workplace safety.