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VA hospital employees protest unfilled vacancies

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.

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.

Reader comments

Fri, Nov 3, 2017

I can see by the way some of these comments are written that we have a SERIOUS problem at VA. Many of you can not form a coherent sentence and yet still expect to be taken seriously by your union and your superiors. Then again, I suppose the union stewards are probably just as illiterate. And, there's one of the larger problems.

Fri, Nov 3, 2017

Total agreement with Russ GA.Retribution is rampant in the V.When an honest, hard working employee has to fear losing their job because they try to address problems or how to fix them, something needs to be done. The managers and their executives have the power to do this. No senior executives or Directors should be able to stay in the same VA for years. They are oblivious to what is happening and only their numbers going up are inportant to them.

Wed, Sep 13, 2017

Just because you are a vet doesn't mean you're right for the job. I have seen far too many vets that are too unstable to hold a position, or those who have such extreme ptsd that hearing other vets tell war stories while working at the va causes them to have ptsd reactions. No other successful company has such hiring practices. It should be the right person for the job, period. Being a vet should only get tou an interview, not force an employer to hire the wrong person for the job. Those in power are trying to break the va as an excuse to privatize and line their greedy ass pockets even more. I guarantee vets will regret it when they see what the rest of america has to deal with to obtain healthcare. They will demand to go back to the va

Tue, Sep 12, 2017

I worked for the VA hospital for overv35 years. They have hired seven additional positions when I retired. Employees were partying and drawing pictures on the ink boards. No control or support by administration and threaten by the AFGE.

Tue, Sep 12, 2017

Retired in 2016 trying to get job back and they have not filled yet. Retirement center told me I have one year from date of retirement which was in Dec 2016. As long not filled. Because they change job title to Maint Mechanic Supervisor from Bld & Trade. With new title is WS-09 and I was a WS-10. I keep saying a WS-09 can not supervisor WG-10 and above and my shop as aWG-10 and WL-10. One last comment on VA go to Tricare that DOD use. You can close on the accept ones for Nursing home. Not enough space to show how they can save money for the VETERANS. I am 70% with VA and still use outside Doctor for any major surgery. Cost less and better. A lot of hot air is coming from down town when it comes to are care. New VA said he would privatize just smoke. cause congress would cry also. Going to put employees out of work. They would get jobs in the private sector, but would have to work.

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