Members Turn Tallahassee Purple In Support of Seniors, CaregiversFebruary 14, 2020
Tallahassee was awash in the power of purple as dozens of 1199SEIU members made their voices heard for seniors and their caregivers on Senior Day actions throughout the Florida State Capitol.
Caravans of workers came from Tampa Bay, Central and South Florida in a show of strength to lawmakers, news media, and community partners dedicated to better serving nursing home patients and staff.
Members were proud to learn from Senior Day organizers that 1199SEIU is the first labor union to be a community sponsor of the high-profile event.
The demonstration of unity and commitment is especially important this legislative session as representatives consider critical bills that can both hurt and help the state’s rapidly growing elderly population and their caregivers. The bad bills could allow cuts to CNA hours and the time spent on helping patients with essential daily living needs, among other severe problems. The good bills would provide greater access, resources and efficiency in the state’s long-term care system.
Indications from contacts within the Capitol already show that member lobbying efforts may have put a stop to the bad legislation’s staffing cuts.
“It’s important we stand up and speak out together on these issues. These laws make a giant impact on our lives every day, and lawmakers need to hear this message,” said Sophia Colley, a CNA and MPO Lead who traveled to Tallahassee from her job in Titusville.
Colley conducted a media interview in the Capitol Courtyard in conjunction with AARP, which is part of a powerful coalition with 1199SEIU and LeadingAge Florida fighting for a better long-term care system in the state.
Union members set up a booth in the busy courtyard to pass out flyers and collect contact information from community members, state officials and others who can help the vital cause. The 1199SEIU booth was the biggest hit in the area buzzing with Senior Day crowds, speakers and entertainment, as event-goers were drawn by charismatic purple-clad members handing out free purple-frosted cupcakes.
Inside the Capitol Building rotunda, 1199SEIU also had an information and cupcake table at the main intersection where state officials walk past to conduct their business. Members there were equally busy and effective distributing important information and tasty treats.
At the same time, member teams fanned out for a whirlwind of high-impact lobbying visits in the offices of almost 30 state legislators. In these face-to-face encounters with Florida senators and representatives, members shared their personal stories of challenges on the job and making ends meet at home, their commitment to hard work and dedication to their patients.
Union political coordinators Coy Jones and Jason Morales provided a brief training and pep talk for members as the lobby teams hit the capitol office hallways.
“Don’t let them forget, they were elected to work for us,” Jones cheered on members. “This is our house.”
Veronica Bryan, a CNA at North Dade Nursing & Rehab, led the Miami lobbying team that made the nine-hour ride to meet with key South Florida senators and representatives. “It’s critical that lawmakers see our faces and hear our voices before they vote on a healthcare or long-term care issue,” she said, scoring support and even hugs from the impressed officials. “We’re the experts who are on the front lines trying to take care of our patients and our own families each day.”
To get involved in these local, state and national efforts that will help fellow members and their families, contact your area’s MPO, or Coy Jones at email@example.com and Jason Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org.