Washington, D.C. Lobby DayAugust 22, 2019
Members carry working peoples’ message to lawmakers.
From city halls to statehouses to the nation’s capital, 1199SEIU members make sure that working people’s voices are heard at every level of government.
That’s why on June 4, members from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Florida headed to Washington, D.C. to lobby elected representatives about the issues that matter to working people and their communities.
The packed Lobby Day agenda was centered on improving and defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA), putting a stop to proposed funding cuts to safety net hospitals and making sure that training for healthcare workers is a part of any national infrastructure plan.
Members also had the opportunity to personally thank members of the House of Representatives for passing the American Dream and Promise Act. The legislation, which is aimed at providing permanent protection for Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status holders, passed the House just ahead of the Lobby Day visits.
At press time, 1199ers were pressing their representatives in the Senate to make sure it does not stall there.
Henriquez Jellinthon, a patient advisor at Manhattan’s New York Presbyterian Hospital, paid an emotional visit to Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). Jellinthon came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic under the Dream Act and was nominated by his Lobby Day group to thank the congressman for voting for the Dream and Promise Act and protecting other immigrants. It was an especially powerful moment.
Congressman Espaillat shared that he, too, had come to the U.S. as a Dreamer and now represents one of the country’s most populous districts in the Capitol.
“We need affordable health insurance for everybody.”
–Kerri Ingram radiation therapist Saint Anne’s Hospital, Dartmouth, MA
Throughout Lobby Day, personal visits with representatives demonstrated 1199ers’ understanding of their political power and their concern for the daily lives of the people who live in their communities.
1199 has always been a potent political force, but the larger the union becomes and the more solidarity we express, the more influence we can wield in Washington, said Kerri Ingram, a radiation therapist at Saint Anne’s Hospital in Dartmouth, MA.
“I’m here in Washington to represent for a lot of us healthcare workers on the ACA. My son graduated high school before it came in. He worked part time and he couldn’t afford insurance because it would have taken his paycheck. I was very pleased when he was allowed to be on my plan until he turned 26. We need affordable health insurance for everybody,” she said.
Nijah Cooper works as a patient transporter at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD. She had a message for her senator about the proposed Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) cuts scheduled to go into effect this October. Cooper emphasized how damaging the cuts would be to already stressed safety-net institutions.
“When it comes down to cutting costs it affects everyone that works in the hospital. Each department has a budget. If the hospital gets half of what they were getting, that department gets half, which means people will lose jobs and the patients will need to wait longer for food, for transport and test results. In transport we’re already backed up by 30 minutes sometimes, which means patients waiting longer to go to dialysis, to go to X-ray or to have a CAT scan done.”
In visits with legislators, workers also emphasized the need to strengthen healthcare infrastructure. Shavonne Momzac, an LPN at Start Rehab and Recovery in Brooklyn, spoke on the importance of properly funded training programs.
“I work in drug rehabilitation and we see over 600 patients a day. What I’ve noticed is that we don’t have enough nurses to support the well-being of patients. Nationally, we need funding to train more nurses,” said Momzac. “I’m using the 1199 Training Fund to become a nurse.”