As we enter a third year of the pandemic breaking COVID records, healthcare workers continue pushing beyond our limits and propping up a healthcare system on the brink of collapse. Residents and our fellow healthcare workers are working through exhaustion, severe staff shortages, and a critical lack of support at our hospitals. Many of us are forced to work without knowing our COVID status or because we do not have adequate sick leave to care for ourselves and our loved ones.
One of the most important lessons we learned in this pandemic is that our union is the platform that allows us to fight for the support we need. That is how we won hazard pay at many of our hospitals, proper PPE and testing, and changes to protocols that provided much needed relief. In the absence of comprehensive crisis measures on many levels, it has been when we organized and raised our voices together that we have been able to change the course of events for the better. As union members, we can leverage our contracts in order to address some of the issues we see at the hospital level by partnering with CIR delegates and leaders as we experience another surge.
We’re joining the millions of SEIU workers to demand greater protections for healthcare workers during this surge. Since vaccination alone will not protect all workers from COVID-19, essential workers demand that vaccine requirements be coupled with broader access to testing, PPE, mask mandates, sick leave, and the wide array of safety protections included in the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard that lapsed in December. In the face of an ongoing abdication of responsibility on the federal level and an inherently faulty care system, we will continue organizing and fighting for what we and our communities need, just as we have done before.