VA hospital employees protest unfilled vacancies
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Sep 08, 2017
Veterans Affairs hospital employees have been staging protests across the country demanding that the department fill 49,000 vacancies immediately to ensure veterans receive the care they need.
“Working people at the VA are struggling to do their jobs while staffing shortages are at near dangerous levels," American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr., said, adding, "And Congress is busy self-congratulating themselves for making it easier to fire civil servants at the VA – one-third of whom are veterans themselves. Veterans around the country are being forced to wait longer for care.”
One of those protests occurred at the Denver VA Medical Center, where nearly 600 vacant positions are clinical staff such as doctors and nurses to administrative and support positions, leaving employees overworked and veterans with longer wait times to get treatment, according to AFGE.
Bernard Humbles, president of AFGE Local 2241, said, “Our employees are becoming very frustrated...I've had some that just say 'I'm done,' and leave because of the overwhelming workload. We need to fill these positions.”
Even though the Denver VA hospital acquired 800 new employees in 2016, 600 of those people have already left because of understaffing and low pay compared to private hospitals.
The protests, which have been going on for the past few weeks, have resulted in two bills being introduced in Congress to fully staff the V A— S. 1723 introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and HR. 3459 introduced by Rep. Anthony Brown (D- Md.).
AFGE is urging Congress to pass both bills.