In mid-July, member leaders from across the state convened at regional meetings to discuss how we can better build our member strength and unify our chapters around our common goals as healthcare professionals.
Part of SEIU’s new “Together We Rise” initiative, 14 meetings were held in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Scranton, Harrisburg, Altoona, Eerie and Washington and included chapter leaders from a diverse collection of healthcare settings — from hospitals to nursing homes and even some state-owned facilities.
Of real concern for those in attendance were the challenges union workers face, not only in our facilities but in our communities. Issues like:
- The recent attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with programs that would decimate current healthcare funding programs and leave our patients, residents, and consumers without healthcare coverage;
- Hospital consolidation and huge healthcare systems buying up community hospitals;
- The instability in the nursing home industry due to changes in funding and sales;
- Efforts by state legislators to make Medicaid more difficult to qualify for an to change disability and workers’ comp regulations; and
- Efforts by out-of-state billionaires to chip away at PA workers’ rights to organize and bargain a contract.
“Since I’ve been involved in our union, I have helped my co-workers keep their jobs and fight unfair treatment in the workplace. I’ve helped win raises and benefits that raised up my family and many others,” said Burton Brown, a Sterile Processing Tech at Allegheny General Hospital.
“Now when I meet with decision-makers, whether it’s management or elected officials, I know that as part of the union, I’m also part of the decision-making process,” Brown continued. “I won’t let anyone or anything take away my voice at work or move my coworkers and I backward.”
Issues surrounding the 2018 gubernatorial election here in Pennsylvania were also raised and the number of extreme anti-worker candidates already announcing their intent to run for governor were noted. Many members agreed that our successful efforts elect Governor Tom Wolf in 2014 would need to be revived and reinvigorated in the coming months.
If you or a coworker would like to learn more about building a stronger chapter and developing your leadership skills, please contact your chapter leader or organizer.