More than 1,000 members of 1199SEIU union came out to an emergency morning rally at Madison Square Garden in New York on Feb. 21. Their aim was to begin to mobilize against the crisis facing health care due to lack of adequate funding. Following talks by a multinational cross section of members, including union President George Gresham, home care workers, drivers, dietary workers and others vowed to defend patient care and their own union benefits. “We will unite to save Medicaid! Our health care is in trouble … we are here to stand up and fight!” Maurice, a lab technician, told Workers World.
The union distributed a statement pointing out that for-profit insurers reap windfall profits, even as health care providers have struggled without reimbursement increases for years. The shortfall in funding leaves hundreds of thousands of low-wage and poor people in New York at risk of losing coverage. Those institutions that provide the safety net of medical care for low-income communities have the greatest risk of closing, 1199SEIU workers explained.
The NY State Nurses Association statement pointed out that during the last year there was a real struggle to maintain funds needed to keep hospitals open and to maintain quality health care. Along with 1199SEIU and other health care unions, the NYSNA is organizing to take demands for adequate funding and no cuts to Albany, the capital, on March 14. They call the upcoming action, “Code Blue Heathcare.” And they will fight for what they called for on Feb 21: “Health care is a right!”