I was honored to represent SEIU and join President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, policymakers, advocates, business leaders, and ordinary citizens to discuss policy solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of working families at the Working Families Summit at the White House [on June 23]. I emphasized how important healthcare policy — in particular the full implementation of the healthcare law, including the expansion of Medicaid — is to families.
As a nurse, I shared experiences from my 26 years in the profession. I have seen what a difference access to quality, affordable healthcare makes and I know what a difference the Affordable Care Act makes in the lives of Pennsylvanians. While I am incredibly disappointed that our governor and legislature did not accept the federal funds set aside to provide healthcare to hard-working families, I believe my frustration is shared by many — we are tired of people elected to represent us playing politics with our health.
At [the June 23] summit, I also heard people discuss the challenges of feeling powerless in the workplace — dealing with no paid sick leave, lower take home pay or an inability to advocate for safer working conditions for fear of losing their job. This discussion reinforced for me how important it is to be a part of 85,000 nurses represented by SEIU. I know what a difference having an advocate who will fight for safe working conditions, fair compensation and continued professional development has made for my colleagues and me.
There is a lot of work to be done too many working Americans — both women and men — are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet and respond to the competing demands of work and family. For me the conversations today were a part of an important discussion that I will take back home and continue to have with leaders in my community.