It's time to honor heroes with action! 1199 members have launched the Healthcare Hero Bill of Rights to highlight and underscore the increasingly important role we play on the frontlines providing care in hospitals, health centers, nursing homes, clinics and in private homes.
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the state of emergency declaration, those of us who care for Massachusetts deserve the utmost respect, thanks, protection, and appropriate pay for their work, particularly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has exposed longstanding inequities within our entire healthcare system that can no longer be ignored.
“Healthcare workers have always been heroes, but it has never been more apparent than now, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tim Foley, EVP of 1199SEIU. “These men and women deserve to know they are valued and appreciated. The parades won’t last forever and the “Thank You” signs may not always stay up, implementing real changes that appropriately compensate, protect, and support our healthcare workers is the best way we can truly thank and honor them for their tremendous work.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted longstanding issues within the health system that remains overstretched and underfunded – devaluing and threatening the health and well-being of the women, people of color and immigrants who are caring for our most vulnerable residents. The healthcare heroes bill of rights outlines demands that honor caregivers and strengthens the system.
The Bill of Rights includes:
· Essential Wages
· Quality Benefits
· Appropriate Staffing & Care Team Planning
· Responsible Employers
· Safe Work Environment
· Educational Opportunities & Career Advancement
· A Seat at The Table
· The Right to Form a Union
Read the full bill of rights here -
“To be labeled as a hero has been heartwarming yet that honor hasn’t created safer working conditions,” said Tsibo Bondah, a LPN at Hermitage Nursing Home. “The dangers that were present prior to COVID-19 still remain – inadequate staffing, limited sick time, low pay – and won’t be solved with the vaccine. The burden has only grown for us as we continue to care for others while struggling to care for ourselves.”
Dealing with these issues must be intentional and rooted in addressing institutional racism, bias and discrimination. The longstanding barriers to opportunity must be broken down so inequalities can be addressed and a more just healthcare system can be put in place that protects everyone.