Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Danbury community understands

Danbury Rising! stands in solidarity with those that provide the care we count on, our nurses and the healthcare professionals at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals. Join us on Sunday, November 1 at 5:00PM at Broadview Middle School to show these caregivers we have their backs.
For a flyer of the event, click hereFor a flyer in Spanish, click here

To RSVP for the Facebook event, click here
We look forward to seeing you all there!

The Community of Danbury and New Milford understand the issues the workers at the hospitals face.  They understand what it means to work short handed, for 12 hour shifts days on end, they understand making so little per hour that they have to work multiple jobs.

They understand because these workers care for their mothers, their fathers, their siblings and their children when they are ill.
They understand because they have seen these workers bathe their loved ones, hold their loved one's hand when they were scared, cry with the family when that was all that could be done.

They also understand that the hospitals are wasting millions of dollars on lawyers and union busters instead of investing in these workers and negotiating in good faith.
They understand that the greed of the top executives has no bounds.
They understand that the hospital's call for the state to increase funding is akin to throwing good money after bad until the hospitals stop wasting patient care dollars. (which are taxpayers dollars)

Because they understand, they're holding a vigil this Sunday.
Please join them and tell the hospitals to do the right thing and put patients before profits.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

3000 postcards makes a tall stack and a large statement

On Tuesday of this past week, representatives of the people of Windam Connecticut delivered 3000 postcards, each with an individual's name to the Department of Public Health and the governor to stop Hartford Healthcare's plans to rush through a closing of services at Windham Memorial Community Hospital.
It is disgusting what large healthcare systems are doing in the name of profits for a few individuals at the top.
The people of this small community in eastern Connecticut have said NO!!!!!!!!
Not in our community.

The community is pushing for full hearings on the closing of vital services.
I am proud that AFT Connecticut and the two AFT Locals at the hospital are a part of this coalition.
Patients Before Profits

Friday, October 16, 2015

An open letter to my mobiliztion sisters and brothers

Sisters and brothers,

Thank you.
For all the hard work and dedication that went into this week.
More than that, thank you for the love and guidance.

When I met Jan and Ed, they told me about these "mobilizations" and how they had changed their lives.
They tried to explain it to me and I think on some level I got it, but some things I just have to experience myself to fully understand.

When I started the week, I understood the "why."  (That's the peanut butter story right?)
The "why" is the Movement, the members, the people. It is helping them find a voice and use it.
Through the course of the week, I think I started to understand the "how."
I learned through the presentations, but more, though the many conversations I had with so many people, especially the team leads, who came in from many states with the experience of other mobilizations and organizing drives behind them.

I have so much more to learn.
But I have also learned so much.

I also realized this morning that this week was an organizing opportunity.  Every conversation moved me a little further along in my understanding.
(Almost like as if there were "Leader Links" or Lynx of a chain)
So, I was not just learning how to organize, I was being organized!

Well played my friends, well played.

I must go because I have work to do and doors to knock but once again, thank you and I look forward to being with you all again.
I'll leave you with these two final thoughts that I heard this week.

Every decision is a moral decision.
Every conversation is an organizing opportunity.

In solidarity,

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thoughts from the Mobilization

I am on day three of a mobilization here at AFT Connecticut.
I am surrounded by activists, by people to whom this MOVEMENT is not a job, it is a calling, a way of life.
Some of them are professionals, some of the came to it through an organizing drive in their own shop, some through a grassroots effort they became involved in, and some were elected into it.
Some have incredible insight and skills, some have much to learn, but all have the desire.
Some wear their passion on their sleeve, some keep it deep inside, but all feel it.

I am invigorated!
I am renewed!
I am inspired!

We ofen talk about organizing a new shop so that we can give these workers a voice.
We should organize, either new or existing shops, to help people find and use the voice they have.

“Why is it,” Jonathan puzzled, “that the hardest thing in the world is to convince a bird that he is free, and that he can prove it for himself if he’d just spend a little time practicing? Why should that be so hard?”

He spoke of very simple things- that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.

"Set aside," came a voice from the multitude, "even if it be the Law of the Flock?"

"The only true law is that which leads to freedom," Jonathan said. "There is no other.”
― Richard BachJonathan Livingston Seagull

We call ourselves a Union of Professionals at AFT and that is true, but I hope it is not completely accurate.
My hope and I think our goal should be that we are part of a MOVEMENT of ACTIVISTS, a people finding and using our voices. what this mobilization is about.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Healthcare is not a business

On Friday, Governor Malloy's budget office announced that it would distribute $14.1 million to six small hospitals, stating there are “massive differences between large hospitals and small ones in profit margins.”
"We know that hospitals are not one-size-fits all, and that’s why we’re proactively reprioritizing and reallocating dollars to support small hospitals that need support most,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said in a statement. “To be clear, hospital systems are seeing extraordinary revenues, but today we’re working to reprioritize and reallocate payments so we can assist the small hospitals and support patient care.” New Haven Register.

This is certainly a step in the right direction.

Some hospitals and some hospital CEOs are making incredible profits and salaries.
This is not only wrong, it is not sustainable.
It is time we started to view healthcare as a system, in which some hospitals will make money and some will not, and sometimes it is not due to better management at one than the other, it is sometimes due to things like where the hospital is located and the poverty of that region.

We need to remember that hospitals are in the business of providing for the health of their patients and the community, not in filling someone's bank account, and that hospitals who need more help from the state should get it, not the hospitals who do not need that help.

St Luke said, "Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same."

This should be the guiding principle for hospitals because healthcare is not a business, it is a calling.
We, the public, need to hold healthcare management to this principle

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Time for Better Choices with Patient Care Dollars

 So let me see if I have this right.

Hartford Healthcare has backed out of affiliation talks with Day Kimball Hospital, blaming cuts to Medicaid announced by the governor two weeks ago.
Those cuts are estimated by Day Kimball management to amount to $5.6 million a year. Granted, that is a lot of money, even more than the $3 million a year the CEO of Hartford HealthCare receives in salary and bonuses annually.

"Both our organizations have just taken a gut punch," said James Blazar, a Hartford HealthCare senior vice president overseeing strategy.

As large as $5.6 million is, it pales in comparison to the $103.5 million that Hartford HealthCare made in 2014 and the $346 million it made in 2013.

"Hartford HealthCare has every right to make a corporate decision not to work with the smaller Day Kimball Hospital. But when it has made over $800 million the last five years, the claims made are a bit outrageous," Gian-Carl Casa, undersecretary for legislative affairs in the state budget office, said in an email.

Seems like Hartford HealthCare could afford it.

Yes, some hospitals like Day Kimball, Windham and others are struggling.
That's why legislators voted to provide them with more resources last year.

It seems like as soon as that extra money went did Hartford HealthCare.

Which brings me to this point.

A hospital is not a hospital is not a hospital.

Some hospitals are struggling. Some hospitals are doing fine. Some hospitals are struggling but are part of larger health networks that are doing fine.
Some hospital leaders are starting to look at top management compensation while others continue to give bonuses, even with losses. Some are allowing top executives to cut vital services and lay off caregivers, making the growing income inequality problem in Connecticut worse in the process. 

"This means their highly compensated executives are telling Connecticut taxpayers to supplement and subsidize the hospital corporation's high salaries and extraordinarily positive revenue margins," Casa said. "Hartford HealthCare is doing more than fine, and it's wrong for them to ask taxpayers to foot the bill."

We have been consistent with our message to the governor and legislators.

Hospitals that truly need help should be given it and hospitals that do the right thing in the treatment of their workers and the patients they serve should be rewarded. It’s time for larger hospitals to lead by example, cut compensation for top executives and put money back towards quality healthcare for all. 
We applaud any hospital administrators that lead by example and choose not to waste patient care dollars fighting their own workers. Administrators that consider executive compensation freezes or roll-backs, and put the needs of their community first -- and who remember it should always be patients before profits.
We applaud the legislators for sending distressed hospitals extra help last year and for advocating for a reversal of the recent cuts. We applaud the governor for stating he will listen to reasonable solutions and announcing Monday that his administration will address the concerns of hospitals that are losing money, but, as he said, "that doesn't mean we should have to give money to every hospital."
It's time for overcompensated hospital executives -- just like Wall Street and for-profit corporations’ CEOs -- to pay their fair share. It's time for financially flush health networks that benefit from tax breaks and public subsidies to help community hospitals that are struggling. 
It's time to remember that the business of healthcare is to care for the health of the community, every community.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

We hold the board ultimately responsible

Imagine you're a Respiratory Therapist and you just finished a 12 hour shift.
You have to drive home take care of a few things then you hit your bed.
Now, imagine you repeat that the next day
and the next day
and the next day.
Now imagine that on one of those days you are "in charge" of your department because "charge" is rotated among your small department, and that day, someone on the incoming shift is sick or delayed and you have to stay late.
Your 12 hour shift becomes 16.

52 hours in 4 days.
Imagine making life and death decisions for your patients with that fatigue.
Imagine driving home on day 4.

Well, at least the paycheck would be good with all that OT you might reason.
What if the four days where Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday; meaning they fell into 2 different weeks, keeping you under 40 hours/week and making it all straight time.

Unfortunately, this happens at Danbury Hospital.
Unfortunately, management refuses to discuss it in nearly 10 months of negotiations with their LPN/Techs and Therapists.
This is just one example of the unreasonable stand management of WCHN, the network owning the hospital is taking.
They will not negotiate in good faith, even on non economic issues, even on issues they have negotiated with their RNs long ago and reached agreements that have worked well for years and years.

In addition, while all this is going on (or not going on) in the LPN/Tech and Therapist negations, management was found to have violated the law by not allowing their Healthcare workers (CNA, housekeepers, kitchen, etc.) to have a free and open election on whether they wanted to form their own union.
The illegal activity was deemed to be so egregious that the federal government has ordered a new election.

In situations like this, workers are forced to take their concerns above the CEO, to the board of directors.

But how does one do that?
It's not like the Healthcare workers are playing golf with the board.
It's not like the therapists are invited sailing.

The workers have to go to where the board members are and plead their case.

That happened this morning.
Our national president Randi Weingarten, our divisional VP for Paraprofessionals Shellye Davis, and several other members who are at the AFT Racial Equity Conference in New Orleans, visited a WCHN board member, Spencer Houldin, who was at an Insurance Association Conference and presented the concerns of the Danbury workers.
You can read more here:
They told him that he and his fellow board members are ultimately responsible for the actions of the CEO and upper management.  We will not let them shirk that responsibility.
You can help.
Follow this link and sign the petition to the board of directors. Hold them accountable.
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