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Statement from PEF President Spence on “Safe Staffing” Healthcare Bills

The Public Employees Federation applauds the passage of the “safe staffing” bills by the New York State Legislature. We thank the Democratic majorities in both houses and particularly the bill sponsors, Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblymember Aileen Gunther.

COVID-19 showed the world how critical New York’s nurses are when it comes to caring for the state’s most vulnerable. During the first surge, SUNY Downstate was the only hospital treating COVID patients in the entire borough of Brooklyn! Public sector nurses and direct care workers were rightfully hailed as heroes by Gov. Cuomo and deserve to work in an environment that offers the protection afforded by enforceable staffing plans and mandated staffing ratios in intensive and critical care units.

On behalf of PEF’s 50,000 members statewide, I urge Gov. Cuomo to swiftly sign these bills into law and urge legislative leaders and the governor to expand these sensible measures to include other agencies where chronic understaffing is an issue, including the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Office of Mental Health, the Office of Children and Family Services and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.