On Wednesday night, September 13th, a strong majority of Mazzoni Health Center front-line staff voted to join together with SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania to establish their union.
“This is a milestone in our struggle to make Mazzoni Center the agency deserved by LGBTQIA communities and the city of Philadelphia,” said Riley Marcano, Case Manager, “We are proud of the grassroots leadership that got us this far, and are deeply grateful to the community members, patients, clients, and city officials who stood shoulder to shoulder with us and offered us support.”
The 91 staff members of the Mazzoni Center first presented a petition to form their union on August 15 in order to address long-standing organizational mismanagement, unfair hiring and firing practices, staffing turnover and a lack of input in policies and decisions that impact work conditions and client care.
“From the outset, our goal has been to work collaboratively with management to have a seat at the table and a voice in decision-making,” said Michelle Lindstrom, a medical case manager at the center. “We are here to represent the needs of the communities we serve, not just our own.”
“Our months-long struggle was rewarded today with a resounding yes vote to join SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and we are determined to ensure that the lives of LGBTQIA workers and people are valued,” she said.
Over the course of workers’ efforts to organize, hundreds of patients and community members offered their support – including city officials like Helen Gym, Amber Hikes, Rich Lazer and Mayor Kenny – who wrote letters of encouragement, and demonstrated in the pouring rain to give workers the boost needed to cross the finish line.
At a time when the rights of working people and union members are under unprecedented attack at a state and federal level. The Mazzoni Center workers’ victory is one for the entire city of Philadelphia and for healthcare workers everywhere.
“Today we celebrate,” said Lindstrom. “Tomorrow the hard work and healing begins.”