Press Release

Illinois health care workers to speak out against dangerous staffing practices at hearing

Group of three nurses inside hospital, one hold sign "Saf Staffing Saves Lives"

Speakers from hospitals and nursing homes to explain how industry caused the staffing crisis and how safe staffing legislation can solve it.

Registered nurses with National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) will join with labor allies on Tuesday, Oct. 3, to rebuke industry efforts to reduce staffing in health care systems and nursing homes.

This legislative hearing will address the origins of and practical solutions to the short-staffing and workplace violence crises that put patients at risk and push nurses to strike across Illinois medical facilities. Nurses will discuss how the proposed Illinois Safe Patients Limit Act provides a critical pathway to addressing these crises that negatively impact our patients and our communities.

  • Who: RNs and health care workers from hospitals and nursing homes
  • What: Joint Legislative Hearing
  • When: Tuesday, Oct. 3, 10 a.m.
  • Where: Michael Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, IL
  • Participants include: IL House of Representatives Healthcare Licensing Committee, House Labor Committee, NNOC/NNU, IL AFL-CIO, Chicago Black Nurses Association, SEIU HCII, Teamsters Local 743, IL Nurses Association, IL Health & Hospital Assoc., IL Health Care Association, Health Care Council IL, and LeadingAge IL.

Under current law, there is no limit to how many patients a nurse can be responsible for at one time. Nurses and health care workers say that must change.

“Our hospitals are refusing to hire the appropriate number of nurses required to safely care for our patients,” Brenda Langford, RN at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. “It’s life threatening to patients and dangerous for nurses, who experience increased workplace violence and injury while understaffed. That’s why nurses across Illinois health care facilities and nursing homes are striking — we can’t allow our patients’ health to be put at risk.”

“The very future of the nursing profession is on the line,” Langford continued. “Qualified, licensed nurses leave their jobs at the bedside because their licenses and their patients are being put at risk by these staffing practices. We need the Safe Patient Limits Act to keep more nurses at the bedside. The law mandating nurse-to-patient ratios has worked in California for years, and it will work here in Illinois. Our patients deserve nothing less.”

According to Illinois nurses, hospitals are perpetuating the harmful myth of a “nursing shortage” to hide their refusal to staff units appropriately. Data clearly shows there is no true nursing shortage. In 2022, nationwide, there were more than one million registered nurses with active licenses who were not employed as RNs. In Illinois, as of May 2023, there were over 228,000 actively licensed RNs, while BLS data from May 2022, indicates slightly less than 140,000 nurses are actively employed in the state. That indicates there are more than 88,000 RNs with active licenses who are not employed as nurses in Illinois. That’s not a shortage of nurses; it’s a staffing crisis.

NNOC/NNU represents more than 6,000 registered nurses across Illinois.

National Nurses Organizing Committee is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide. NNU affiliates also include California Nurses Association, DC Nurses Association, Michigan Nurses Association, Minnesota Nurses Association, and New York State Nurses Association.