LAS VEGAS – State-employed nurses in Nevada take care of some of the most vulnerable community members and deserve safe workplaces so they can provide the best possible care. The nurses at a state of Nevada adult mental health facility came together earlier this month and presented management with a list of workplace safety issues they would like resolved.
This is yet another example of empowered state workers – who are on the verge of winning collective bargaining rights after trying for 20 years – joining together through their union, AFSCME, to gain a stronger voice on the job so they can better serve their communities.
The nurses want management to do timely maintenance on water filters and ice machines, remove mold in the building, and resolve safety issues caused by high patient-to-staff ratios and violent attacks by some patients. The water at this facility has been found to have harmful bacteria and is unsafe for drinking, which is why water filtration systems have been installed throughout the building.
In addition to these issues, the nurses presented management with a petition signed by over 50 workers requesting a staff-employee Health and Safety Committee. This committee will allow staff to have face-to-face time to discuss issues with management and solutions that would improve state services.
“Patients come here because they don’t have anywhere else to go and we treat them with respect. But we deserve respect, too, by having a safe work place so we can provide quality care in a non-threatening environment,” said Liwa Caberto, a nurse with the state of Nevada.
Initially, the group was nervous about presenting the issues to management. Nurses have filed complaints individually but have not seen changes. However, now that they have power in numbers, they have gained confidence.
Indeed, management agreed to work on resolving the mold, water and ice issues and to hold follow-up meetings with the group.
“We all face the same issues at this hospital, and I am proud my co-workers and I are coming together as AFSCME to fight for changes that affect both us and the community we serve,” said Yolanda Cabrerra, another state of Nevada nurse.