COVID-19 Union Response Bulletin – September 4 Issue
As we fight for the health and safety of working people during the coronavirus pandemic and continue our fight for economic and racial justice, we are also committed to modeling the best practices that we demand from employers for our own members and for all working people. This has meant that the way 1199NW organizers do our work has had to change.
Beginning in early March, we made the difficult but necessary choice to suspend in-person meetings in our chapters to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission between our organizers and our members. While this has been challenging for all of us, this time of social distancing has meant that we have had chances to innovate and improve our work.
1199NW organizers and delegates are still in contact with members by phone, email, video call, text and mail. We have held countless bargaining sessions, joint labor-management committee meetings, and actions on the boss by Zoom. Members of 1199NW have held socially distanced actions across Washington state and western Montana, and we continue to relentlessly bargain fair union contracts that put patient care over profits.
The COVID-19 outbreak has shown the importance of the collective power that comes when working people join together in a union to hold employers accountable and fight for our families, the people we care for, and our communities. Our continued solidarity during this extraordinary time will ensure we come out on the other end of this crisis a stronger fighting union than ever before.
Jane Hopkins, RN
Executive Vice President
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
COVID-19 MOU IN KALISPELL
Nurses at Kalispell Regional Medical Center used our collective voice to sound the alarm about the importance of a COVID-19 agreement that protects caregivers and patients and ensures consistent safety standards. Because of our unity, we won an agreement that guarantees administrative leave for workplace exposure, protections for high-risk staff, timely notifications in case of exposure, adequate PPE access, hazard pay and more.
UW VALLEY: OUR RETIREMENT IS ESSENTIAL
The nurses and caregivers at UW Medicine Valley Medical Center are telling hospital administrators: Our retirement is essential! We are proudly wearing our union buttons around the hospital this week because we know that suspending retirement contributions is no way to reward caregivers for our extraordinary work on the front lines of the pandemic. Have you added your name to our community petition? Stand with us at retirementisessential.org.
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.
UPDATED FAQ ON BENEFITS
We have updated our Frequently Asked Questions page about state and federal benefits related to COVID-19 response and assistance in Washington and Montana. Visit 1199nwcovidresponse.org/faq-benefits to find up-to-date answers to questions. Our Benefits FAQ resources have been translated into Spanish, Tagalog and Amharic — find the translations linked at the top of the page.
FOOD ASSISTANCE FOR FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is a one-time food benefit for children grades K-12 who were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. P-EBT provides up to $399 per eligible child, and the funding is not subject to public charge and does not impact a child or their caregiver’s immigration status. Deadline to apply is Friday, September 11. Learn more and apply at Washington Connection.
PAID FAMILY & MEDICAL LEAVE
All working people should have access to paid time off to care for a seriously ill family member or themselves. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and our allies fought for and won passage of the Paid Family & Medical Leave Act. Since the program launched in January this year, 100,000 Washington workers and their families have benefitted from this program. Anyone who worked 820 hours (in one or multiple jobs) in Washington in the past year can take paid family or medical leave now, even if they have recently lost their job. Learn more about the program and how to apply.
GOVERNOR EXTENDS MANDATES
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced the extension of 26 proclamations in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The extensions were approved by the state Legislature. We have compiled a list of the proclamations that affect our workplace and working conditions as healthcare workers here.
INGRID ANDERSON FOR STATE SENATE
Congratulations to union nurse and WSNA member Ingrid Anderson, who won her primary for Washington State Senator for the 5th legislative district. Anderson, who is endorsed by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, is running for state Senate to create a healthcare system for Washington that puts the needs of patients and workers over those of corporations.
Members from across 1199NW volunteered with Ingrid Anderson’s campaign to make nearly 30,000 calls to voters in total before the primary. The coronavirus has shown us that we need capable leaders and healthcare champions in office at every level of government. Let’s keep up the fight so Washington state will have a nurse in the Senate to help see us through this pandemic!
MEETING WITH U.S. SEN. MURKOWSKI
As healthcare workers, we have powerful stories to tell — and when we come together as a union to share our stories, elected officials listen. Last month, 1199NW member flight nurses of Airlift Northwest in southeast Alaska met with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to share what they need to continue providing their patients with the best possible care.
Members raised their concerns about the availability of COVID testing, medical supplies, and support for childcare for healthcare workers. Sen. Murkowski shared how useful it was for her to hear members’ first-hand experiences and pledged to continue to work in the Senate to address the needs of front-line healthcare workers.
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.
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 fill out our intake form here.
- 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.