Putting our Mouths where the Money isFebruary 22, 2023
1199ers lobby Albany lawmakers on healthcare priorities.
It’s been just a few months since 1199ers pulled out all the stops to secure a full-term for New York State Governor Kathy Hochul.
Members were able to feel their power in Pennsylvania too, when their canvassing helped secure a narrow victory for John Fetterman in the U.S. Senate last November.
And as far afield as Georgia, the might of the Union was on display to help push Raphael Warnock over the top in his own Senate race runoff in December.
But in spite of this clear demonstration of union power at the polls, 1199 members have to keep showing up and showing out every time, no matter what victories have been won in the past — just like they do at each and every contract fight.
Elected officials in Albany need to keep hearing firsthand from 1199 members about what it is like working on the frontlines while dealing with staffing shortages and resource gaps. The New York State budget will be finalized come April. Hundreds of 1199ers from all five boroughs, Long Island and the Hudson Valley have already started boarding busses to Albany to make sure their voices are heard at a time when crucial funding decisions are being made.
When Union members meet with legislators it is to protect their children and secure their futures — a future where they can grow up healthy and strong. When 1199ers speak out, it’s to guarantee they will be able to continue to provide exceptional care to their patients and confirm legislators’ commitments to working people that we’ll have access to good jobs and quality healthcare in our own neighborhoods.
It is clear that healthcare and home care workers have not yet recovered from the pandemic.
Solving the shortage of home care workers and the staffing crisis across most hospitals and nursing homes will require significant investment from New York State. Some 1199 employers are in real danger of failure if state assistance is not provided. And Governor Hochul’s initial budget proposals fall far short of what is needed. In fact, hospitals and nursing homes will be held to break even, given no significant new resources to address the crisis. In home care, she has even proposed cutting wages and undermining our hard won standards.
One member from Niagara Falls put it this way, “We are the last free-standing hospital in Niagara County, serving underrepresented people in in the city of Niagara Falls,” Evelyn Harris, a long time Delegate and PCA at Niagara Falls Memorial, said. “We provide care to a lot of elderly and low income people who have nowhere else to go. We need to have our hospital there and we need proper funding to keep it running.”
As well as telling individual stories, members have been asking the Legislature to stand up to the Governor and allocate real resources to addressing the healthcare crisis, including across the board Medicaid rate increases with no givebacks, at least $1.3 billion in safety net funding and continued wage increases for home care workers. To achieve these ambitious goals, we will need to mobilize like never before, and we have called for a massive mobilization in Albany on March 21st.