New York, NY (PRWEB) June 18, 2014
On Wednesday, June 18, thousands of nurses and caregivers held protests for quality care and good jobs at 100 facilities throughout the New York City area. The “informational picket lines” at hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other facilities mark the launch of an effort to educate patients and the public about healthcare CEOs who are severely threatening the quality of healthcare services and jobs for New Yorkers.
The nurses and healthcare workers of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East have been in master contract negotiations with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, the employer group representing most private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics in downstate New York. In negotiations, employers have been threatening radical changes to caregivers’ health benefits which could result in massive cuts for 55,000 lower-wage workers and future cuts for over 110,000 total members. Quality healthcare depends on healthy caregivers, so these cuts could put patients and public health at risk. Just as firefighters need oxygen masks and police officers need bullet-proof vests, health benefits are an essential tool for healthcare workers to do their jobs of caring for New Yorkers.
“Many of my patients have compromised immune systems,” said Neyra Smiling, a Registered Nurse at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “I need to make sure that I don’t bring any illness to work because even a small cold could send one of my patients to the emergency room. Healthcare for healthcare workers is a public health issue and CEOs ought to know that keeping caregivers healthy is essential to keeping our communities healthy.”
“We provide quality care to our patients every day, but CEOs don’t want us to have quality care for ourselves and our children,” said Francis Clarke, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Parker Jewish nursing home in Queens. “I’m raising two children with asthma, and my modest wages haven’t kept up with inflation. I cannot afford cuts to our healthcare. That’s why I’m taking a stand for the health of my children and all the other working families.”
Employers are also threatening the economic health of communities by opening many outpatient facilities with sub-standard, non-union jobs. Meanwhile, the top five health systems had over $20 billion in revenues last year and CEO compensation has increased 420% since 2004.
“Healthcare delivery is shifting to outpatient facilities, and these are the jobs of the future,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “Income inequality is out of control in America, especially here in New York City, and we need more good, middle-class jobs for working families, not dead-end jobs with low wages and meager benefits. We want to make sure all healthcare jobs are good jobs for working New Yorkers, with economic security for all communities.”
Caregivers have launched a website, CareForNY.org, and radio, online, bus shelter and subway ads. This is part of a rapidly escalating campaign aimed at reaching an agreement before the July 15th expiration date of the master contract. The informational picketing was aimed at educating patients and the public and was not a strike.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in New York and the nation. We represent over 250,000 healthcare workers in New York State, and over 400,000 total members throughout the East Coast. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.