We are holding a community and worker picket at Interfaith Hospital (1545 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, NY 11213) on Tuesday, October 15 at 7pm.
Interfaith Hospital, after several delays, will have an injunction on November 15th to decide whether it will remain open or closed, and the company is planning on closing the hospital on Christmas Day. While the unions have depicted Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio as our Holy Hospital Savior, he has merely delayed the possible closure until after he takes office. The delay does nothing for the 1,544 workers who received layoff notices, except buy time to find another job and reduce the layoff compensation. Furthermore, the Crown Heights/Bed-Stuy area are ultimately without 307 beds, 11,000 inpatient and 250,000 outpatient annual visits, and emergency services nearby. And de Blasio comes out on top.
The unions (SEIU 1199 and NYSNA) have been holding weekly pickets on Tuesdays at Al Sharpton’s church, instead of at the site of our workplace, and our community resource. After de Blasio won the democratic primary election, they stopped holding pickets all together, and have now devoted their work full time to getting him elected. Even if de Blasio was able to save Interfaith, he will be going into office after Interfaith is set to close, making clear that the union’s support of him is nothing more than a cynical use of workers’ and patients’ lives to get in cozy with the new mayor and secure their own paychecks. This is in line with SEIU’s strategy for “representing” its members; last year the union spent over $18 million of dues money lobbying politicians.
At Interfaith, SEIU 1199’s and NYSNA’s decision to stop the pickets (problematic though they were) is an implicit example of what they say to workers explicitly: everything is A-O.K. at Interfaith. When we flier, most of the people we meet are saying they thought Interfaith is open for good. This is not true. The struggle is not over. We must unite, despite what the unions want us to do, to defend Interfaith!!!
But we must also transform it. Hospitals today are money-making machines that do nothing but exploit workers and pathologize the community. Interfaith is no exception. We must demand an end to sub-standard care, to expand and transform services at Interfaith to accommodate the community’s and workers’ needs.
This will not be accomplished through symbolic protests. We will no longer rely on de Blasio, the unions, or any other rulers to “save” Interfaith. Our future is in our hands. Florence Johnston Collective will be at Interfaith, autonomous from the unions, at 7pm on Tuesday, October 15th. Join us.