UHW Member Blog

Blog: SEIU-UHW Takes Call for Immigration Reform to D.C.

By Jesse Sabala

Jesse-Sabala-DC-300pxSince Nov. 12, activists have been fasting on the National Mall in Washington D.C. as part of Fast for Families, a movement that aims to send a message to Congress that the immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. Jesse Sabala, a food service worker at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, recently traveled as part of an SEIU delegation to D.C. to participate. This is his account of the trip.

When I received the call to go to D.C. I was excited for the opportunity to help in any way I could. Immigration reform is near and dear to my heart. Being in the healthcare field, my co-workers represent a wide range of nationalities. In many ways, I feel it is a social obligation to help my brothers and sisters who work so hard for all the citizens of United States and care in the utmost loving ways for the many people they encounter.

We went to the Capitol where we met up with the fasters and heard their story. There we met SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina, who is taking part in the fast. He told us about families ripped apart when the parents were deported and how his fasting is a commitment to true reform. We also saw a collection of items left behind by nameless immigrants who didn’t survive their trip through the Sonoran desert in pursuit of the “American Dream.” It was a humbling experience for all of us.

Together with Phath Thammevangkhun from Kaiser Modesto, and Bonita Munoz, a home care worker from Sonoma County, we went to the offices of various Representatives to lobby for H.R. 15, a bill that would create a path to citizenship for immigrants and protect the rights of families and workers. It was a great opportunity to learn how to have a proper political discussion with congressional staff, and I also learned a lot about how to handle acute political situations.

I was very pleased and grateful to work with and meet all of the members of SEIU present for this event. While I am disappointed in our Congress for not moving forward on commonsense immigration reform, I will continue to push for it. Immigration reform is not just any issue, it is a human rights issue.

You can help bring attention to this issue by participating in the National Days to Act, Fast and Pray, which will run December 1-3. During this time, you can sign our petition, make your own commitment to fast or contact your member of Congress to ask him or her to support commonsense immigration reform that will protect the rights of families and workers.

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[BLOG] Immigration reform is right path to opportunity

by Xochitl Velasco, Kaiser Fresno

[This column was originally published July 21, 2013 in the Fresno Bee.]

Xochitl-Valasco,-Kaiser-Fresno1As the U.S. House debates whether to vote on immigration reform legislation this summer, the lives of young adults like Victor are on the line. These determined and idealistic “dreamers” wait with their futures on hold, while the bill languishes in Congress.

I wish they had the chance to meet someone like Victor, a friend of my family. If they did, they would understand why this legislation is so urgent. They would appreciate the sacrifices and fear that have dominated the lives of so many immigrants and their families. And they would see how dedicated people like him are trying to improve their education and find better paying jobs.

Victor just graduated in June from Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia. He’s 18, and he came to this country when he was 5. At the time, his parents were divorced, and he was living with his mother in Mexico. But his father was living in California and felt his son would have greater opportunities growing up in America. So he brought Victor to California, where they eventually settled in the San Joaquin Valley.

Victor says he has no memories of his early years spent in Mexico. In fact, he didn’t fully understand until the fifth grade that he was born there. Once he understood his story, he was afraid to share it. He didn’t tell his friends that he was undocumented. He didn’t tell them that he was afraid of being deported. Instead, it was his secret – one which left him full of doubt.

If he were deported to Mexico today, Victor said he would be lost and couldn’t make it. He speaks little Spanish, doesn’t know the culture and doesn’t know his way around the country. Because of his young age when he was brought to the United States, deporting him to Mexico would be no different than sending any 18-year-old American-born child to a foreign country to which they have no ties, no understanding and no connection.

His story is more than just about avoiding immigration authorities. Victor dreams of something bigger – he wants to go to college and eventually raise a family and become a productive, tax-paying adult. He wants to enroll at College of the Sequoias in Visalia and become a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician.

While Victor is eligible for a special visa program created last year for young adults who entered the United States without proper papers, it only lasts for two years before he would have to leave the country or apply for an extension.

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Victors in America, and it is just one more reason why immigration reform is so vital. People like Victor shouldn’t be deported because of a decision he had no control over. He identifies as an American, but he enjoys few, if any, of the same rights and freedoms.

I understand and relate to Victor’s story because it’s similar to my own. I came to the United States when I was 14, having left Mexico to live with my sister in San Jose. I didn’t choose to go; my parents sent me because they felt the U.S. offered a better future.

I spoke no English and initially struggled in school. However, I enrolled in English classes to overcome the language barrier, and through hard work I eventually caught up to my peers and graduated from high school. I later attended San Jose City College, where I earned a degree in nursing.

Today, I’m grateful for the opportunities I have in the United States. I pay taxes and Social Security and I am able to provide for my three kids because I have a stable job with benefits. My life is stronger because I gained a green card in 1981, and don’t have to live in fear of being deported and separated from my kids.

The challenge for Congress is to do the right thing by people like Victor and all the other millions who came to this country in pursuit of building a better life. Our elected leaders know our society is stronger if we enact common-sense immigration reform that toughens security along the border and creates a path to citizenship for young adults like Victor.

It’s the right thing for all of the Victors out there, and our country as a whole.

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BLOG: Our contract means I can keep my loved ones alive and healthy

By Verna Hampton, Kaiser West LA

I’m the mother of a teenage daughter and an 11 year-old son. My son was diagnosed with asthma as a newborn. It’s a chronic condition so it’s been a struggle throughout his life. As a mother, I get so scared when he has an attack and I do everything in my power to keep him safe.

Almost as scary as the asthma is the cost of treatment. The prices for his medications and the machine he needs are astronomical, and I simply would not be able to afford them without our paid family healthcare.

So in my family, our medical benefits are truly a matter of life and death. I’ve been at Kaiser West LA for 12 years now, and our new contract means I can keep my loved ones alive and healthy.

Share your story about what our new Kaiser contract means to you!

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Blog: My inspiration comes from my wife and my two daughters

By Ashwin Deo, Kaiser Sacramento

I knew from the time I was a kid that I’d go into healthcare. I was always the boy running around the neighborhood with a first aid kit.

Today I still have that same love of helping people. My big inspiration on the job as an Orthopedic Technician is when I get patients who don’t have much hope of being mobile again and am able to help them get back on their feet and living a good life.

At home, my big inspiration comes from my wife and my two daughters—one is four years old, the other is just four months! The paid family healthcare in our SEIU-UHW contract means that my family will get the care we need. And, with my pension, I’ll be able to retire one day knowing that I can take care of my loved ones and live a full life as I grow older.

 

Share your story about what our new Kaiser contract means to you!

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BLOG: Because of Our Contract, I Still Have a Job

By Robyn Roeszler
Coder, Kaiser Stockton

I am my son’s sole provider. The most important thing for me right now is keeping my job so that I can take care of him.

When Kaiser decided to close the Stockton Call Center I thought I was going to lose my job and my healthcare. But, the job security protections in our union contract gave me the opportunity to train and take the test to be a Coder. I passed the test and got the job.

Because of our SEIU-UHW contract, not only did I keep my job at Kaiser, I actually moved up the career ladder and got a big pay increase. What can I say? I’m thrilled.

Share your story about what our new Kaiser contract means to you!

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BLOG: With four kids, increased dental coverage is awesome

By Holly Craft-Moreno
Kaiser Panorama City

I’m really proud of the work that I do as a Medical Assistant in Geriatrics. Growing up, my grandmothers enforced and re-enforced that we should always respect our elders. I know that they are both watching over me to make sure that I go the extra mile every day with the elderly patients in my care.

I have three daughters and one son. My oldest already had braces and braces are not cheap! The $200 increase in dental coverage is a big deal for me and my family. Increased coverage means two to three more visits to the dentist a year that I don’t have to worry about paying for out of my pocket.

I feel a sense of pride that with the union we fought for everybody. I am reassured that for the next three years my co-workers and I will be able to provide good care for our families.

Share your story about what our new Kaiser contract means to you!

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Remembering Les Harris

Les HarrisIt is with incredible sadness that I let you know that Les Harris, one of our great leaders, passed away Sunday night. Les had an incredible optimism and attitude that anything could be done, something that consistently inspired those of us around him that whatever the obstacle was, there was a way to overcome it. He was a dreamer that had a vision of what a just society looked like, and just as importantly worked hard to lead others to share that vision and whatever was necessary to make it happen. Les, along with Martha Alvarez, were the pioneers of the Let’s Get Healthy California work in South Los Angeles. Whether he was at a health fair at a Chivas game, enrolling low income families into health insurance, leading in the Let’s Get Healthy California Taskforce Advisory Committee or organizing his group of executive board members, Les exuded enthusiasm and joy. In this last election cycle, Les decided he wanted to do something to help get President Obama elected. He went to Las Vegas, door to door in incredible heat, sharing his conviction and commitment to getting the President re-elected and doing something he had never done before.

Les was a family man with an incredible wife and two kids. And his family knew that he loved them, and that he loved his union. And we, in turn, loved Les and we have all lost an incredible leader.

Dave Regan
SEIU-UHW President

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Thanks to SEIU-UHW, Health is Contagious at the State Capitol


This Wednesday, SEIU-UHW members went to the State Capitol to celebrate a big moment for California’s future, and for SEIU-UHW’s Let’s Get Healthy California campaign. After months of discussion, Governor Brown’s Let’s Get Healthy Task Force—named after our own UHW campaign—released its final report on how to make California the healthiest State in the nation. The report proposes solutions to some of the biggest health issues facing our State: fighting chronic disease, lowering healthcare costs, expanding healthcare access, and providing quality of care. SEIU-UHW played a key role in creating the Task Force, and the report includes many of our recommendations. That’s why we celebrated as government, business, and community leaders promised to commit significant resources to make Let’s Get Healthy California a reality.

“We can have it all…but we can’t have it unless literally millions of people start behaving differently than they are behaving now. Unless we build a culture of health in California…that resides in neighborhoods, communities, businesses, in civil society, we will not get there,” said SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan.  For more about the Task Force meeting, read this article by the California Health Report.

The report brought a joyous end to our year-long work to get Let’s Get Healthy California off the ground, and it showed us something important: health is getting contagious in California! That’s why we’re prepared to take real action and ensure that the report leads to real change in Californians’ health.

Jeneua Washinton, Dignity Health Sacramento


I’m excited that people understand that chronic disease is a serious epidemic that needs to be addressed.  But we need action. That’s why I’m going to run a 5K with two of my co-workers and get my hospital more involved in Let’s Get Healthy California!”

 

Tracy McGlory, Kaiser West LA

“Today proved that more people are with us.  Health is getting contagious! That’s why we have to be the leaders keeping this moving forward.  We have to make this grow.”

Frank Valdez, St. Joseph’s Medical Center

 

“This thing is growing, and it’s exciting to see that Let’s Get Healthy California has made it all the way to the Capitol.  Now we need to take this great energy and recruit more members to our work and to the 2013 asthma walks!”

 

James Dade, Jr., Kaiser Richmond

“It’s been great to see that the Governor has pulled together people who can help move Let’s Get Healthy California forward.  It really gives me more drive.  Now we need 10,000 leaders to help us move this forward.  Join us!”

 

 

 

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BLOG: Bringing Health, Activism, and Education to My Community

This week, we spoke with SEIU-UHW home care member Steve Ly, newly elected Elk Grove School Board member, and the first Hmong elected official in Northern California.

How did you become a home care worker?
I have two jobs. For a long time, I have been an educator for foster students. But I also care for a relative. It’s meaningful work, because the alternative to that is a nursing home, which would cost more, and I’m able to provide Hmong food and the kind of care that improves my client’s quality of life. Now I can’t imagine my life without this work.

What prompted you to become active, both in the union and in politics?
A lot of people complain about things they don’t like in government, but I always say that you can’t really complain if you don’t vote, if you don’t get involved. I try to bring that involvement to the Hmong community. Our community is unique – we are here because of our involvement in politics, because we fought for the U.S. in the Vietnam War. So getting involved here is a natural fit.

How are you working with SEIU-UHW?
SEIU-UHW has many Hmong members, but they haven’t always participated. A UHW organizer reached out to network with the Hmong community, and I’ve worked with her to get out the union message. For example, many don’t understand the significance of COPE, our political action fund. I tell them that every campaign sign, every ad you see is paid for by somebody. Unless we pool our money together, and help politicians who fight for us, the billionaires will have all the power.  When the elders of the community start to understand that this is our chance to have a say, they get excited about participating.

What do you like about this union?
One thing I really like about SEIU-UHW is how they reach out to different communities. They make an effort to have Hmong interpreters and ensure that everyone understands how to participate. It really makes a difference for the Hmong members. The union is their training ground, where they are learning how business is conducted here in the states. It’s part of their journey of becoming American. Next time they go to City Hall to fight for what they believe, they won’t be intimidated by the process.

As a new School Board member, what do you plan to do next?
We’re doing a big push for Let’s Get Healthy California. I truly believe that getting healthy is a lifelong battle, and the only way our kids can win it is to start young. We have to get them thinking about eating healthy as a way of life. That’s how you get the whole community to eat healthy, to live healthy. You can’t do it overnight. I know I’ll be working with the union to get this message out in our schools. I’m looking forward to it.

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BLOG: When Home Care Works Together We Win

Thanks to Obamacare, extra dollars from the Communities First Choice Option (CFCO) are arriving in California and creating cost savings for counties. As a result, Marin County Home Care providers have won a living wage increase that places their wages as the highest in the state ($11.90 not including healthcare benefits). Connie Barker was one of many home care workers leading negotiations with Marin County Supervisors.

by Connie Barker, Homecare, Marin County

I just got my first raise in five years. It was a long time in coming, but it just goes to show what we can do when home care providers work together on a plan.

As home care workers, we are supposed to get a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) every year, but we hadn’t had one in five years because the County Manager kept saying we couldn’t afford it. But this year, it was different. Obama’s re-election, which we all worked so hard for, meant that the Affordable Care Act would stay in place, and that CFCO money would continue to flow into California. We helped pass Proposition 30, which meant that our home care funding would be more secure.  And there was the Coordinated Care Initiative, which changes home care funding and creates cost savings for Marin and other counties. We had done the political work to make all of that possible. So we did our research, crunched numbers and talked to each supervisor personally. We showed them how much money the county is saving. The County Manager looked at the numbers and agreed, granting us our COLA this year.

This success is one more step along the path of changing home care into the more respected, more professional job that it should be.  We still have a long way to go: we don’t get overtime, we have no sick time, no retirement, and don’t even talk about pension. But we’re moving forward. And it’s because we’re at the table making our case. For once, we are not just reacting to something awful that’s been done to us. Before, every year we’d be on the chopping block, and every year we’d have to go up to Sacramento and yell and scream. Now, with the Coordinated Care Initiative, we’re not just reacting. We’re putting something forward to make change. We’re taking our power back to set the agenda. And we find that when we do that in an intelligent, thoughtful way, and when we put the power of our people and our passion behind it, we have more allies than we thought. When we have the numbers, and we get together behind a plan like this, we win. For the first time in five years, I got a raise. It feels great. And it makes me feel hopeful for what we could do next.

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BLOG: Mr. Allen Goes to Washington

This week, 25 SEIU-UHW members are joining other union members, healthcare advocates and activists in Washington, DC to urge legislators to preserve Medicaid funding. We’re featuring members’ experiences as they participate in a national day of action and lobby their congressional members.

 Ollie Allen, a Medical Assistant from Kaiser Vallejo, was asked to speak at a press conference Tuesday which highlighted the importance of Medicaid and called on lawmakers to protect it. Here’s what he had to say: 

“My name is Ollie Allen. I have worked as a Medical Assistant in California for 14 years taking vital signs and filling out reports for patients before they see the doctor.

In my many years of working in the oncology, chronic pain and pediatrics departments, I’ve seen thousands of patients—lots of seniors—who have worked hard all their lives and helped build our country. These are proud people who through no fault of their own now need help with healthcare coverage because they lack money.

I’ve also seen a sense of total helplessness. Seniors have broken down, cried in turmoil, wondering how much the doctor’s visit will actually cost them. I’ve seen parents who clearly needed medical attention, sacrificing their own care to make sure their children are taken care of.

I’ve seen thousands of patients and not one of them has asked for a hand out. Nobody has ever come in with an air of entitlement. Nobody’s every said they wanted anything for free. Far too many of these folks see healthcare as a last option. But they should expect to be treated like human beings.

Medicaid gives seniors and families a choice between life and death. With Medicaid, people don’t have to choose between canned food and transportation and skipping prescriptions or going just one more day with chronic pain.

When did we become a country that doesn’t care about the people who helped build the nation? Making people destitute for healthcare is just morally wrong.

Taking programs like Medicare and Medicaid away from seniors and children—while letting the richest among us decide who’s worthy and who’s not—is not what this country was built on. What message are we sending to those who came before us and those who will come after? We must stand together with morality and empathy to protect Medicaid for a healthy future.”

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BLOG: A Little Indulgence Can Be Healthy, Too

By Karen Faith Wilson-Timmons, Sonoma County Homecare

Every year, I go with my daughter and granddaughter to our local Jewish community center for their big Chanukah party. And every year, I eat lots of latkes – deep-fried, crispy potato pancakes served with a scoop of applesauce or sour cream. They are so good. And even though they are very fattening, I wouldn’t want to give them up for anything. You see, I believe that holiday indulgence is a necessity, even if you’re trying to be healthy. Let me explain.

This year, I worked hard to improve my health and, for the first time, I was successful! I stopped trying to diet and took a more positive approach. I consumed more vegetables and served myself smaller portions. For the first time in my life, I started eating breakfast every day. And I ate light meals throughout the day instead of the traditional three heavier meals. It wasn’t about restricting myself or getting upset when I broke the rules of a diet; it was about changing my habits so that I could feel positive about myself every day. And you know what? I lost 25 pounds.

Even with this change in lifestyle, I still think that holidays and feasts like Chanukah serve an important purpose in life – they provide us with the opportunity for a little indulgence. Life on this planet can be very hard. We can all agree that it has its ups and downs. We need these special occasions to keep us going and to give us something to look forward to when things get rough. But the next day is the next day. It’s what you do the rest of the year that ultimately matters for your long-term health. If you indulge on the holidays and eat sensibly between them, then you should be fine.

So this Chanukah, I’m going to scarf up those latkes. But starting the next day, I’ll be back to eating healthy again. To me, that’s the healthy choice.

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Pop Quiz: What Chronic Disease Does Mr. Potato Head Have?

By Claredit Barton
Kaiser LAMC

Last week I went back to school–but this time I was the teacher, a bunch of second graders were the students, and Mr. Potatohead’s health was the subject.

I went with my Kaiser LAMC/Sunset coworker, Martha Menendez, to teach the second graders of Franklin Elementary School about an issue near and dear to my heart – diabetes. I’m a diabetic, and it’s important for me to start teaching kids how to prevent chronic disease before it’s too late. While studying nursing in Guatemala, I went into rural areas to teach people about how to care for their ailments and stay healthier. Now I’m ready to go out into the urban areas near my workplace to do the same thing for this community.

So that’s just what Martha and I did. First, we got trained with other SEIU-UHW members on how to make fun and entertaining presentations for school kids. We then looked up the school closest to our hospital, contacted the principal, and got to work.

Together with Franklin’s teachers, we gave our presentations to the students. The first focused on a silly skit with Mr. Potatohead whose toy body parts fall off whenever he eats candy or sits all day in front of the TV. The kids then coach Mrs. Potatohead to help her husband make better choices and put himself back together again. Afterwards, we played a game to teach the kids about the sugar content in popular beverages, so that they could learn how to make those choices for themselves.

We learned something important from working with the kids: Chronic diseases are now so prevalent that there are even second graders who know about them. A few of the students told stories about family members with diabetes or shared what they’ve heard about obesity. We realized that starting the conversation gives these kids the opportunity to teach their fellow students too.  And they loved it!  We even got letters from the kids telling how they’re going to eat more fruits, vegetables, and protein.

We’re excited to take what we’ve learned and bring it to more kids in LA. But most importantly, we’re excited to see more of our SEIU-UHW brothers and sisters getting out in the schools and making a difference.

It’s easy to get started! Here’s how:

  • Get startup materials from SEIU-UHW by contacting HealthyCA@seiu-uhw.org.
  • Team up with a co-worker or another SEIU-UHW member–or get started on your own
  • Go to your kids’ school, or find a school near your work or home
  • Prepare yourself, and teach—we’re here to help.

Then share your experiences with us to help motivate others to action.

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BLOG: Dancing To Make A Difference For Diabetes

By James Dade, Jr.
Kaiser Richmond

The older I get, the more I understand how important it is to be involved with the community. When we’re looking out at the future of our communities and our whole country, we don’t want to see sickness, we want to see wellness.

That’s why I was out volunteering yesterday in San Francisco with a dozen other SEIU-UHW members for World Diabetes Day 2012. We were doing blood pressure screenings, glucose testing, and getting the word out about diabetes.

And we were dancing.  We were dancing because movement like that helps prevent diabetes. Dancing and working out balances our glucose levels – and when we get our cardiovascular system pumping like we did, you know it’s working.  And, it’s fun!

This work really is fun, especially when you see people joining in and getting excited about what we’re doing with Let’s Get Healthy California. That right there gets me excited – coming out into the community, dancing, fighting chronic diseases, and then going back to our facilities to get the word out.

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BLOG: Grateful this Veterans Day

By Kellye Everhardt, Fresno Home Care

My name is Kellye Everhardt, and I’ve been caring for my husband, Carl, for the last 16 years.  Carl went through a series of surgeries in the nineties to remove blood clots in his legs, and he ultimately needed to amputate both of them.  I quit my job as an electronic technician to take care of him, and am still doing it to this day.

Carl is also a veteran, and this Veterans Day, I’m grateful for the many veterans in my life.  Carl served in the Vietnam War, and my father served in the Navy for over 35 years.  My nephew is in Afghanistan now, and we’re proud of him for both serving our country and for helping to take care of injured vets.

The veterans in my family have helped make me the strong UHW leader that I am.  My father told me that when I get involved in something important, I should do it as a leader.  He taught me that if you believe in something, you need to go all the way.  That’s why I decided to join the UHW Executive Board and to advocate for the IHSS program this spring.  I went to Sacramento every other day for two weeks to talk to legislators about the importance of this program.

When I get discouraged about our work, my husband Carl encourages me to stay involved and to keep going.  He helps me to persevere so that we can bring more change and progress.

I’m incredibly grateful for those who serve our country, and for the veterans who have encouraged me to be a stronger leader.

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Turning the Election Into a Healthy California: Easy as 1-2-3

By  Yitskhaq Abraham-El, COPE Chair, Kaiser West Los Angeles and Rosalia Rodriguez, Executive Committee Member, Sacramento Home Care provider

Election night was a great one for SEIU-UHW members and our families. For weeks more than 1,500 members knocked on doors, made phone calls and talked to people all across the state. And it paid off big. Take a look at all of our victories here.

We helped re-elect President Barack Obama, passed Prop. 30 to protect our schools, defeated Prop. 32 to save our political voice and elected dozens of candidates we supported.

So what did we actually win? With Obama re-elected, the Affordable Care Act is safe, and now 6 million uninsured people in the state will get healthcare.

We helped stabilize the state budget so there is more funding for home care, hospitals and nursing homes.

We made sure that working people in California maintain their strong voice in politics to speak out for improvements to healthcare and healthcare jobs.

But many of our coworkers are now asking us, “So what happens now?”

Our leadership in this election gives us an incredible opportunity to help shape our future. Over the next few months, the U.S. Congress will decide the future of Medicaid and Medicare, the Governor’s Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force will issue recommendations to reduce chronic disease, and the state legislature will vote on expanding Medi-Cal and funding for healthcare. Each of these could have a major impact on our jobs and our future.

Here are three ways each of us can make a difference:

  1. Join together for political action. We need to keep the pressure on by volunteering, standing up, and speaking out to win the improvements we need.
  2. Join the Let’s Get Healthy movement. Thousands of us need to reach out to our communities through our campaign to help make California the healthiest state in the county.
  3. Contribute to our political action fund, COPE. Together we can build the strong voice we need to help shape a better future.

Let’s turn this election in real progress. We’ll hook you up to the action if you sign-up today [BSD pa, or email us at politics@seiu-uhw.org.

 

 

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BLOG: Rockin’ Riverside for Richard Roth

By Patricia Woods, from Community Hospital of San Bernardino

I joined SEIU members from across southern California to get out the vote for General Richard Roth for State Senate in Riverside County. He’s been so active in supporting the community, especially veteran support programs. That’s really important to me because my daughter was in the Navy, and we have to support our troops.

But I also did it because I know that General Roth will stand up for healthcare and workers like us. He’s already proven his dedication to the Riverside community, with more than 30 years of community service here. His support for a new medical school at UC Riverside will not only improve healthcare here but also bring in thousands of good new jobs.

And we did it! We rocked Riverside and helped elect General Roth to the California State Senate. Now we’ll have a new ally in Sacramento to help us defend funding for healthcare and home care services.

This is the first time I’ve really gotten involved in politics and the experience has been incredible. I always vote, but going out and talking to other voters, helping them understand why we need to elect leaders who will help us fix healthcare—that is how we really make a difference.

I’m not stopping now just because the election is done. There’s a lot more to do, and plenty of ways for members to get involved.[LINK to SIGN UP FORM] We need everyone to step up. Big changes are coming for healthcare, and if we don’t make sure our voices are heard, our clients, our patients, our families will all lose out.

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BLOG: A Friend of Mine

By Karen Linzy, Monitor Tech
St. Francis Medical Center

Do you ever wonder what impact all the hard work we’re doing in SEIU-UHW is having? Let me tell you a true story to remind you.

A friend of mine works at a hospital in Southern California that is what we call “NYU,” as in “Not YET Union.” Earlier this year he grew frustrated about how he and his co-workers were being mistreated by management and so he tried to convince them to join a union. As we all know that’s not an easy job, and after a difficult start he grew disillusioned and was ready to give up.

That’s when I invited him to the SEIU-UHW leadership assembly in LA last month. And that’s when everything turned around.

My friend didn’t know exactly what the event was about, but he went anyway–and he was blown away by the strength and solidarity he was part of that weekend. SEIU-UHW members shared how they were facing the same workplace problems that he faces, but how organizing in SEIU-UHW and winning contracts gives us the strength to improve our jobs and the care we provide. He also heard amazing leaders speak about the work that we’re doing in Let’s Get Healthy California to welcome new healthcare workers into the union and to help our communities live healthier lives.

My friend walked away from the leadership assembly on Sunday inspired and re-energized–so much so that when he went back to work on Monday he started talking again to his co-workers about organizing a union. The difference this time is that he has the tools and the inspiration to win, and he has the support of SEIU-UHW leaders. Members like me are right by his side sharing our stories and answering questions for the workers at his hospital–and we’ll be there with him until they’re our brothers and sisters in SEIU-UHW.

And get this–workers at a nearby hospital heard about the work we’re doing and want in on it, so now we’re organizing THEM into SEIU-UHW too!

So big props to all of us who are taking a lead in SEIU-UHW. Whether we’re participating in leadership assemblies, knocking on doors, phone banking, volunteering at health fairs, or donating to COPE, the work we do every day inspires others to keep pushing to win better jobs and live better lives.

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BLOG: My birthday wish is 4 more years for President Obama

By Loretta Jackson,
Sacramento Home Care

This week, I celebrated my 45th birthday by getting out the vote with my fellow SEIU-UHW members in Las Vegas. I met so many people from around the country on this journey. We all left our homes for days at a time and united for one cause—to re-elect President Obama.

Each door we knocked on was different. We helped some people find their voting location. Others we talked to about the benefits of voting for Obama, preventing further funding cuts to education and the importance of keeping Obamacare. We convinced some young adults to lead by example—they committed to being a model for their younger siblings by voting in their first election. AND…we even changed some minds.

This experience was truly inspiring. I loved every minute of the last fifteen days knocking on doors and talking to voters. In three words: it was awesome.

Regardless of the outcome, I know my actions counted and my voice was heard. The most rewarding part: knowing I helped make change for myself and my children’s generation.

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BLOG: Prop 32 Would Leave Home Care Without Protection

By Kou Lo
Sacramento Home Care

My name is Kou Lo and I am a home care provider from Sacramento County and I am my son’s caregiver.

Taking care of my son is a 24-hour job. He has cerebral palsy so he stays in a wheelchair and he can’t do things on his own. He needs to be fed, he wears a diaper, and he is unable to learn. At night, I have to wake up, put his blanket on him, check the room temperature, check his diaper, and give him medication if he needs it.

It is extremely difficult for me to be away from my son. My wife and I cannot work outside the home –  who would take care of him if we did?

That’s why I decided to volunteer in the election. It would be terrible if Prop. 32 passed and if Prop. 30 didn’t pass: it would leave the home care program without protection. Parents like me would not have any way to care for our children.

This is my first time doing this type of political work – talking to fellow Hmong voters by phone. Some don’t understand the two propositions so this is a chance to educate my community. I urge everyone to help out and get involved.

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