We’ve been working with a group of RNs, CNAs, and other workers at St. Luke’s Hospital in the Harlem area. St. Luke’s recently signed a merger contract with nearby Mt. Sinai Medical Continuum to merge the two hospitals. Studies have shown that large health systems, such as St. Luke’s and Mt. Sinai, oftentimes merge in order to have more leverage to charge higher insurance premiums. This could mean increased costs of care, and a reduction in hospital beds. Communities near St. Luke’s are aware of this possibility, and have encouraged the local Community Board 9 to demand increased care for specific populations, including asthmatic children.
However, this is too little too late. Hospital workers, patients, and community members need to build power from below and pressure the new Mt. Sinai system to ensure not only job security and adequate service provision, but a complete end to job and salary cuts, increased workloads, and pressure to receive endless certifications and “official” education. When workers are overworked, we are unable to serve our clients and patients. We must work together to get all of our needs met.
We created a flyer with St. Luke’s workers and have been passing them out and postering them around the hospital. So far we are finding that most people know about the merger and are concerned about what it will mean for their job. They have been eager to take our flyer.
St. Luke’s workers understand that they are not alone. Mergers and closures like this are happening all over the city, and many are fighting back. The 1199 SEIU local has called an action on Thursday, August 29 at 4pm at 7th Ave and Greenwich Ave. This is a meaningless symbolic action aimed at workers at Interfaith Hospital in Bed-Stuy. We will be at the action passing out our flyer and meeting workers who want to build a real struggle to control how, when, and how much we work.
As always, call or email us if you’d like to help flyer, or for more information on the hospital workers campaign.