Report From a Healthcare Worker
For months now we have heard the government and the bosses call healthcare workers “heroes,” “angels,” “brave warriors,” etc. But what we have also seen is an across the board attack on the working conditions of these very same workers.
At Alameda Health System Hospitals (AHS) in the SF Bay Area, which includes Highland Hospital, the largest safety net hospital in the East Bay, the union contract expired in March of this year and workers have since been fighting for a new one. So far, the administration has threatened to freeze wages, cut benefits, and make workers pay for 10% of the health benefits that have so far been free. They are also proposing to cut holiday pay for 12-hour employees so they can only get 8 hours of pay, trying to make layoffs easier by ignoring seniority rules, and proposing a new method of shift cancellation which would allow management to inform workers that their shift is cancelled up to a minute before they have to clock in. These are just a few of the dozens of other takeaways.
AHS is excusing all of these attacks by bringing up the over $300 million deficit on which they are operating. AHA has been borrowing money from Alameda County for years and has failed to pay it back, several times. Of course at no point did workers have any say in how this debt was accumulated. What we can see is that while workers did not create this disaster, they are going to be forced to pay for it by the administration.
This time of crisis has shown what the capitalist bottom line is in all industries: continuing to make profit at the expense of risking the lives of the workers who create this profit with their labor. The pandemic has shown just how valuable our labor really is. It is time for healthcare workers to fight back and not fall down the gaping holes of this false safety net.