|DC 37 | PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PRESS | ABOUT | ORGANIZING | NEWSROOM | BENEFITS | SERVICES | CONTRACTS | POLITICS | CONTACT US | SEARCH ||
Public Employee Press
DC 37/AFSCME STRONG: ENGAGE & EDUCATE
Action teams ready for hospital campaign
BY ALFREDO ALVARADO
The department's campaign of lunch-time meetings to inform members of the planned restructuring at the nation's largest public hospital system began on Oct. 4 at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn. Organizers are also meeting with members at Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan, Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx and 10 other NYC H+H facilities.
No layoffs planned
The campaign aims to mobilize support among the members to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign off on legislation that provides for a more equitable funding formula for the city's cash-strapped public hospitals. By 2019, NYC Health + Hospitals could be facing a budget deficit of $2 billion. In his executive budget for 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio added $700 million to help address the budget shortfall.
On Oct. 6, union organizers held a lunch-time meeting at Harlem Hospital, where members were given an update on the hospital restructuring plan by Senior Assistant Director Moira Dolan of the DC 37 Research and Negotiations Dept. Dolan assured the members gathered at the hospital's Martin Luther King auditorium that, despite the financial problems, no hospitals or clinics will be closed, nor would any employees be laid off. "There could be some redeployment, but there are no details yet," she explained.
The plan does call for making $50 million available for retraining, she added. Dolan also said that part of the plan is to reduce costs by decreasing the number of days patients stay in the hospital and focusing more on outpatient care.
The city's public hospital system employs 18,000 DC 37 members.
Ralph Palladino, 2nd vice president of Local 1549, which represents clerical staff at the hospitals, also attended the meeting. He shared with members the long history of activists in Harlem who have fought to keep the doors of Harlem Hospital open.
"If it wasn't for our union working together with the community, this hospital would have been turned into a luxury condo a long time ago," he said.
It was also at Harlem Hospital where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was treated after he was attacked with a knife during a book signing in Harlem in 1958.
At the meeting, organizers also recruited volunteers for the union's Member Action Teams. These activists serve as a liaison between the union and the members at their worksite. The MAT organizing drive began last March during the campaign for a new contract for employees at the City University of New York that held similar lunch-time meetings on CUNY campuses throughout the city. The MAT activists were instrumental in helping to get members to attend a rally outside Gov. Cuomo's Manhattan office to demand a new contract.
"I think it's a great idea," said Local 1549 member Sandra McPhee-Hunter, who has joined a Member Action Team.
Fair legislation needed