Press Release

California Nurses Association calls on Sacramento to provide RNs equity in workers’ comp, pass A.B. 1156

Group of nurses outside hold signs "Staff up for safe patient care"

At press conference with Assemblymember Mia Bonta, nurses to spotlight bill as a solution for California’s health care staffing crisis

Nurses across California are applauding the introduction of A.B. 1156, authored by Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) and sponsored by California Nurses Association (CNA). If passed, the presumptive eligibility bill would automatically provide workers’ compensation to nurses and other health care workers for a variety of injuries and illnesses. Amidst a staffing crisis in the nursing profession, this legislation would help increase the retention of skilled nurses in California hospitals.

  • Who: CNA nurses and Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland)
  • What: Press conference calling for the passage of A.B. 1156 to help address the staffing crisis in hospitals and health care settings
  • When: Wednesday, April 5, 10 a.m.
  • Where: Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, 3600 Broadway, Oakland, Calif. at southeast corner of Broadway and MacArthur Blvd.

“Our workers’ compensation system is currently set up to delay and deny the healing that nurses need after we are injured and sickened on the job,” said Valerie Delgado, an RN at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center’s Covid-19 unit. “This not only hurts nurses, but also reduces the quality of patient care because it reduces the number of healthy and skilled nurses in hospitals.”

“Our frontline health care workers face a clear gender gap in presumptive access to worker’s compensation, simply because they are in a female-dominated profession,” explained Assemblymember Bonta (D-Oakland). “Simply put, there are certain injuries and illnesses that are presumed to be work-related for firefighters and police officers, allowing the employee to more easily access benefits, covering medical and other expenses resulting from the employee being unable to work. Our healthcare heroes deserve the same presumption.

“Nurse’s on-the-job injuries—MRSA [Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus], respiratory diseases, and physical injuries—are not presumed to be related to the job,” said Bonta. “A.B. 1156 will change that and ensure that nurses are treated with the same respect, dignity, and care they deserve and show patients every single day.”

Nursing is a profession that incurs a high risk of illness and injury. Covid-19 is just one example of the serious disease exposures they encounter. Nurses also face challenges to their health and wellness from workplace violence incidents, musculoskeletal injuries from repetitive motions and heavy lifting, and viral infections prevalent in hospital settings. Yet, nurses have to prove their injuries and illnesses took place at work, a process that adds unnecessary burden and stress or is simply insurmountable.

“We’re thankful to Assemblymember Bonta for authoring this common-sense legislation that will make it easier for nurses to heal after getting hurt on the job, instead of wasting their time fighting for the medical and financial support they require,” said CNA President Sandy Reding, RN. “Legislators who are serious about fixing the staffing crisis in California’s hospitals will quickly pass this legislation, because it will make the decision to stay in the profession easier for skilled nurses. Nurses need fewer hoops to jump through and this is one place to start.”

Passing this legislation would also correct a gender disparity in California workers’ compensation law.

Frontline workers in male-dominated professions – including police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) – are currently eligible for workers’ compensation presumptions for a whole host of conditions, including lower back pain, MRSA, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nurses, however, do not have any presumptive eligibility, even though the nearly 90-percent female profession experiences many, many known hazards at work, including Covid-19.

By ensuring all frontline health care workers have access to the same workers’ compensation presumptions, A.B. 1156 would move California forward in achieving economic and gender equality.

California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the nation with 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities throughout California and nearly 225,000 RNs nationwide.