Tagged: writing

Balance Sheet on Election Day 2014

Last year we wrote the an article, featured below, ahead of the mayoral and several important local elections.  Despite the election of Bill DeBlasio, supposed hospital supporter extraordinaire, and Leticia James as public advocate, the conditions of healthcare for poor and working class people in the city have definitely not improved.  Shortly after de Blasio’s election, LICH hospital finally closed under the spirited protest of workers and community members.  Conditions for Home Health Aids continue to decline, and the public housing projects near closing hospitals go heavily policed and with intermittent services such as electricity and water.  Despite the inability for elected officials to change these conditions, FloJo isn’t discouraged.  Over the last year we’ve met incredible people engaged in struggles against their exploitative conditions and for a new kind of care.  This month we’re launching our “Care Worker’s Support Network” to help build campaigns of struggle in workplaces around the city–so hit us up if you have demands in your workplace or community and need support.  This election day, we’re “voting” for everyday people–CNAs, HHAs, nurses, patients, teachers, secretaries, nannies, and everyone struggling to create a new world!

Besides LICH, here are some exciting struggles of the last “election” year:

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community members and FJC protest the final sale of LICH. This protest featured tons of politicians shamelessly plugging their campaigns, even the “most liberal” Brad Lander, thanking the same police who put so many people in the hospital for being there.

Click here or scroll down to continue to last year’s “Election day Special!”

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Another Care is Possible: Pt. 2 of Reflection on SB 1391

Here is part two of our analysis of SB1391 from a medical worker deeply acquainted with people with addiction and in recoveryThis piece further articulates the relationship between medicalization and the history of anti-drug legislation, and lays out a series of mandates/demands for healthcare and society.

Another Care is Possible: Thinking Beyond Criminalizing Substance Using Mothers

Kristen was 19 when she took her first Percocet at a party, and for that moment, all of her depression and anxieties disappeared. But it also set off a decade of addiction to pills and eventually intravenous heroin. She dropped out of college and plunged from one crisis to another. It wasn’t until Kristen realized she was pregnant that she finally reached out for help and enrolled into treatment at a New York City public hospital where doctors provided her with treatment and helped her deliver a healthy baby boy.

Kristen’s story is not a miracle – recent findings have demonstrated the effectiveness of treatment for mothers with illicit substance and alcohol dependence. However the recent passage of Tennessee’s SB 1391 has dealt a blow to women’s rights and the autonomy of healthcare workers to provide quality care.  The law mandates healthcare workers to report substance abusing mothers to the police, who face misdemeanor charges if babies are deemed to be harmed by the mother’s substance abuse. Despite evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of substance treatment, cuts in education, public housing, and healthcare services have crippled efforts to support women in recovery and diverted public funds to incarceration.

Such events are not incidental and are linked to dominant historical, ideological, and economic forces that shape how healthcare is provided.  We must beyond such events and rethink our autonomy as healthcare workers and how we can collaborate with marginalized communities to launch more lasting alternatives. We must open spaces in and outside the clinic that can launch conversations that allow us to listen and collaborate with marginalized communities in order to launch new modes of reproducing care.

Nixon, Reagan, and ‘Just say no’
In the 1960’s, organizations such as the American Indian Movement, Black Panther Party, Young Lords, and Brown Berets rattled the core of the American establishment. In the wake of the Civil Rights Act and weakening Jim Crow era laws, Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’ re–escalated the government’s disciplinary apparatus in communities of color.   Spaces and social bonds that could produce non–capitalist alternatives were nearly annihilated, including radical organizations, unions, and eventually family and neighborhood networks with the waves of foreclosures, gentrification, and rising incarceration (particularly in communities of color). A new mode of economic production would come to dominate poor communities – the sale and consumption of illicit drugs.

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Election Day Special: A Celebration of REAL Leaders

[note from authors: the end of the article contains several exciting examples of healthcare organizing.  To skip right there click here and scroll down!]

This past week, the Democratic primary seems to have taken over New York.  If you’re a union member, your phone has likely been ringing off the hook–not because someone has finally addressed your 20-month-old grievance, or has called for a much needed strike action to prevent thousands of layoffs in your job, but to remind you to “get out the vote!” today.  If you’re one of the millions of non-unionized, unemployed, or disabled people in this city, then for the last several months you have been getting endless campaign notifications in the mail along with news of medicare cuts, medicaid “redesign”, and a smaller balance on your SNAP cards. And if you are a hospital worker, a teacher, a cleaner, a kitchen worker, or one of the 100,000’s of people facing the loss of their local hospital (as is the case with the imminent closing of Interfaith, the closure of Labor and Delivery services at North Central Bronx, the closure of several St. Vincent locations, and the yet-to-be-determined loss of units at Mt Sinai/Beth Israel/Roosevelt/St Luke’s merger) then you’re probably wondering, what does all of this have to do with you?

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All the “useful literature” an FJC member received from Interfaith’s Nurses Union, Interfaith has about 11,000 inpatient and 250,000 outpatient visits a year, employees over 1500 people mostly from the central Brooklyn neighborhood, and is facing financial pressure to close with layoffs this year.

This election period in particular is especially hectic, and it’s no accident.  In the last year, Labor and Delivery was cut at North Central Bronx Hospital, leaving thousands of mothers without local care and hundreds of workers to transfer to unfamiliar units; Long Island College Hospital shuttered its doors and laid off its workers and medical residents; Mt Sinai is taking over Beth Israel, St Luke’s, and Roosevelt Hospitals in which cuts have already started, and more are on the way without any communication to workers or patients; and Interfaith Medical Center has made its determination that it will close, sending layoff notices to over 1500 employees and it is holding on now by a last ditch injunction pushed by DeBlasio in a cynical campaign move.  And when the hospital closes either on its scheduled date (currently slated for November 14th of this year) or a month or year after, DeBlasio’s position will be sealed, along with his healthcare package.  On top of this, many of us–underwaged workers (many in healthcare), the elderly,the disabled, and unemployed people are facing “medicaid redesign” and medicare sequestrations which will cut access to care even more drastically.

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When do we SNAP?: Against Cuts, Low Wages, and Food Stamp Discipline

Introduction

As political campaigns to raise the minimum wage grab headlines, there is a decrease in the federal minimum wage on the horizon that nobody is talking about. The coming reduction in the wage for working class people in the United States, employed and unemployed, will come from a two pronged reduction in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, better known as food stamps. These cuts will affect the 50 million people struggling to feed themselves and their families in the current economic depression. And these nationwide cuts, effecting every recipient, just may provide workers with the broad basis for action against the system that keeps them broke, overworked, and dependent on their boss and the state just to survive.

The state calls food stamps “benefits” and “entitlements”, and tells people they are a privilege, not a right. Some politicians talk about food stamps like they are state sponsored charity. But SNAP benefits are a part of the wage for the lowest strata of the working class. They are the piece of the paycheck necessary to buy food, a piece that the capitalists refuse to pay.

SNAP cuts must be recognized as wage cuts, and fought against by the cooperation of all working class people, no matter whether they receive benefits, and especially by the working class people who work in food stamp and other benefit centers. We need to help build this movement by facilitating these connections, and agitating beyond the reformist lines.

Accordingly we can’t simply defend the program or demand more benefits. The SNAP program itself must be understood as a tool used to discipline the working class. No matter how high they are, these benefits hold a small amount of working class peoples’ wages over their heads to make them dependent, subject them to humiliating privacy violations like drug tests and endless bureaucratic hurdles, and provide a cheap compensation for the loss of real jobs, the ever-diminishing standard of living, and the mass incarceration of tens of millions of Americans. This is why we don’t simply need more food stamps, but the end of the system that makes food stamps necessary to survive.

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