March 16, 2021

Chairman Takano, Senator Brown Introduce the VA Employee Fairness Act

Bill would ensure labor protections for all VA healthcare clinicians

Press Contact

Jenni Geurink (Takano), 202-819-4684

Trudy Perkins/Matt Keyes (Brown), 202-224-3978

WASHINGTON, D.C — Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the VA Employee Fairness Act of 2021which would ensure that VA’s Title 38 healthcare professionals—including nurses, physicians, dentists, and physician assistants who serve our veterans— have the same workplace rights currently granted to other VA clinicians and federal employees. By providing full collective bargaining rights to these healthcare professionals, VA will be better equipped to retain and recruit top tier staff to care for our nation’s veterans and empower VA staff to speak up about patient safety concerns. This bill has 71 cosponsors and the support of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and National Nurses United (NNU).


“Thanks to VA’s talented healthcare professionals, VA offers some of the best healthcare in the world. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, VA’s doctors, nurses, and medical professionals even stepped up to serve all Americans,” said Chairman Takano. “However, many of these providers still don’t have key workplace rights that are standard across the federal government. If we’re going to fill VA’s 39,000 vacancies, we need to ensure VA can continue to recruit and retain top tier medical professionals and provide exemplary care for our nation’s veterans. By granting these essential healthcare workers full collective bargaining rights, our bill will help make that possible.” 


“The nurses, physicians, dentists, physician assistants and other healthcare workers at our nation’s VA medical centers, many of whom are veterans themselves, are the best at what they do,” said Senator Brown. “Expanding the right to collectively bargain is one of the most important tools we can use to empower these workers and ensure they have a voice in the workplace. It means these essential workers can advocate for patient safety and improved healthcare coverage, they can earn higher wages and they can have more paid time off, which will improve our veterans’ care and strengthen local economies, families and communities.”


“Thank you Chairman Takano and Senator Brown for standing with the front-line heroes who have risked their lives to care for our nation’s veterans throughout the pandemic,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “The restrictions placed upon doctors’ and nurses’ union rights have always been unwarranted. Two years ago, the previous administration went further and stripped medical professionals of almost all of their union rights as part of its larger union-busting agenda. It is critical that Congress pass the VA Employee Fairness Act to ensure that all VA workers who have elected union representation have a voice in the workplace, regardless of their job title.”


“National Nurses United applauds Senator Brown and Chairman Takano on the introduction of this critical piece of legislation,” said Irma Westmoreland, RN, chair of Veterans Affairs for NNU. “Registered nurses have a duty to advocate for their patients at the bedside, and now more than ever they must be protected when they speak up about issues that affect patient care. Without full collective-bargaining rights, nurses and other healthcare workers in VA facilities can be vulnerable to retaliation when they bring up workplace issues such as unsafe staffing, insufficient supplies, or inappropriate nurse assignments. The VA Employee Fairness Act would strengthen our nurses' ability to speak out about patient safety issues. We strongly urge all members of Congress to support this bill and help ensure that the VA continues to provide the highest quality of care to our veterans."


The VA Employee Fairness Act is cosponsored by Reps. Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Anthony Brown (MD-04), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Judy Chu (CA-27), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jim Cooper (TN-05), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Danny Davis (IL-07), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Jesus Garcia (IL-04), Vicente González (TX-15), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Kaiali?i Kahele (HI-02), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Raja Khrishnamoorthi (IL-08), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Conor Lamb (PA-17), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Al Lawson (FL-05), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Andy Levin (MI-09), Mike Levin (CA-49), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Elaine Luria (VA-02), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Frank Mrvan (IN-01), Marie Newman (IL-03), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Donald Payne (NJ-10), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Kathleen Rice (NY-04), Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (Guam), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Tom Suozzi (NY-03), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Dina Titus (NV-01), David Trone (MD-06), and Juan Vargas (CA-51).