COVID-19 Union Response Bulletin – July 17 Issue
As healthcare workers, we are putting our lives at risk every day. Members across our union are going to work and doing the best we can with very little. We are very concerned that as the coronavirus crisis continues and our states struggle to control the outbreak, hospitals and clinics are going to make the choice to put profits over staff safety. In conversations with employers we have seen that they are looking for ways to make sure healthcare workers are working harder than ever, while receiving fewer benefits and lower pay. This is unacceptable, and we will fight.
We are coming together in our union and rallying our communities and elected leaders to our side as we fight for the resources we need to safely take care of our patients. As you will read below, our fellow members at Valley Medical Center and Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital are taking action right now to protect themselves and their patients, and I encourage you to sign their petitions in solidarity with them. Let’s stand together and settle for nothing less than the highest standard of safety for ourselves, our coworkers and our patients.
Jane Hopkins, RN, Executive Vice President, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
Exciting news: The team of behavioral health caregivers at Sound voted to form a union with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW last week! A strong majority voted YES to building a strong working relationship with Sound where their voice is heard. This is an important victory in our effort to grow our union and the labor movement within behavioral health and housing so we can continue to stand up for the respect and funding this work deserves.
MEETING WITH SEN. CANTWELL
Six 1199NW members participated in a call Thursday with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell on the impacts of COVID-19 in healthcare and behavioral health facilities across Washington state. Sen. Cantwell heard members’ concerns about PPE, testing, and paid admin leave, and discussed her work on providing more PPE and other resources to front-line workers. Sen. Cantwell said she would do everything she could to fight for more testing, improved PPE access and standards, and to make sure that federal funding for hospitals gets to the front-line caregivers who need it. Members participating included SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Vice Presidents Grace Land, Sterile Processing, Good Samaritan Hospital, and Betsy Scott, RN, Swedish Medical Center; Sharon Stephens, RN, DSHS; Sylvia Keller, RN, Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital; Robert Bash, Shelter Coordinator, DESC, and Mary Robinson, Sterile Processing, Deaconess Hospital.
Help for union members in Washington with issues related to Unemployment Insurance is available through the Washington State Labor Council. Visit our updated Resources page on the COVID-19 Response website to learn how to get in touch with WSLC staff.
ACTION AT VMC — OUR RETIREMENT IS ESSENTIAL
Healthcare workers across Valley Medical Center have been sounding the alarm and taking action against VMC administration’s plan to cut contributions to workers’ retirement accounts. Now, union members in the UW Medicine system are standing in solidarity and joining the fight through an online advocacy action. You can stand with the nurses and caregivers at VMC by signing the petition at RetirementIsEssential.org. We cannot let VMC administration’s attack on benefits open the door for Valley and other hospitals to go after the standards workers have worked hard to secure over the years.
VMMH PETITION — KEEP MEMORIAL SAFE
Our union siblings at Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital, Yakima’s only hospital, are advocating for the safe care of their community during the COVID-19 pandemic as they negotiate a fair union contract. Union family, let’s join our colleagues in holding Memorial Hospital accountable to the safest standard of care. Sign and share the petition at keepmemorialsafe.org.
In case you missed it…
LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT ISSUES
Many of us who have had Unemployment Insurance claims accepted after a furlough or hours reduction have not received unemployment payments. During the COVID-19 crisis, our union legal team can help with Unemployment Insurance issues. If we have not received our Unemployment Insurance payments after successfully applying, we can send an email to COVIDLegalAid@seiu1199nw.org with our name, employer and our preferred phone number, and our union legal team will be in touch. The 1199NW legal team can also help us if our Unemployment Insurance claims are denied.
- King County and the City of Seattle are stepping up to expand child care options for healthcare workers during this time of crisis. We’ve compiled all the child care resources available in Washington for frontline healthcare professionals like us.
- Carina app: This tool connects healthcare and essential workers to union child care providers who have openings in your area. Open this link on your phone or mobile device to learn more about how you can find reliable child care near you.
GET IN TOUCH
If you need to report an incident at your facility related to COVID-19, have concerns about your safety in the workplace or questions about the impact of COVID-19 on your work, please call our COVID-19 member hotline:
- Hotline calls will be returned Monday through Friday during business hours.
- For all other queries, you can find the appropriate contact on this page.
- If you feel that you have been subject to discrimination based on race because of COVID-19, our legal department wants to know so we can fight back together. Submit your story by filling out an incident report here.
- Stay in touch by following us on social media.