The Oregon Nurses Association is Oregon’s oldest and largest nursing union and professional association. We are proud to represent more than 13,000 registered nurses, advanced practice nurses and nursing students in Oregon. Oregon nurses make up the largest segment of Oregon’s health care workforce, and practice in nearly every health care setting, from large hospitals to local clinics, from corrections to school-based health centers, and in community-based public health. Nurses understand the connection between public health and policy, which is why we advocated for the Fair Shot issues, particularly around paid sick days and raising the minimum wage.
ONA’s nurses brought their voices to testimony at the capitol on the public health importance of keeping sick workers at home. Low-wage workers should not have to choose between paying their rent or working while sick. And thanks to the passage of the paid sick days legislation, Oregon workers can now stay home from work when they or their children are ill, keeping their co-workers and members of the public healthy, speeding up their own recovery time, and bolstering out health care system by addressing treatable illnesses before they worsen. Before the passage of this legislation, nurses saw far too many people going into work sick, putting Oregon’s families and communities at greater risk.
Oregon nurses also understand the importance of maintaining living wage jobs to improve our state’s health and economy. For hundreds of thousands of working Oregonians and their families, raising the minimum wage could also have life-changing health benefits -- research shows that income affects the rates at which individuals contract diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease; and the likelihood they will suffer premature mortality. Raising children out of poverty in particular can have long-lasting effects that improve Oregonians’ health and extend their lives; from healthier births to fewer chronic diseases later in life. By ensuring every Oregonian has the ability to earn a living wage we can help improve the health of workers and their families.