Lisa Engles is a Medical Assistant at Kaiser Roseville in California and a rank-and-file member activist in the National Union of Healthcare Workers
It's so inspiring to see tens of thousands of Verizon workers on the East Coast fighting for their rights and their future. I know exactly how they feel. Verizon, sadly, isn't the only huge, brand name corporation that's trying to cut workers' healthcare benefits at a time of record profits. One other company acting like Verizon is none other than a non-profit healthcare provider -- my employer, Kaiser Permanente.
As a healthcare worker, I never imagined I might not be able to go to the doctor myself. I never believed I might not be able to afford a surgery or be afforded the care I give to patients every day. I have dedicated my life to helping people receive the care they deserve. After all, I work for one of the largest, most successful healthcare organizations in existence!
But here's the side of Kaiser Permanente you don't hear about from their glowing reports: Kaiser executives are currently trying to strip the workers of our future by cutting our health coverage and reducing our retirement benefits. Their idea of “cutting the fat” means cutting out the people who care directly for patients. Short staffing is now the norm, instead of the exception. Short staffing means our patients don’t get the care they deserve.
The thing is, like Verizon, Kaiser is profitable. Kaiser made over $1.5 billion in profits in the first six months of this year alone. They aren’t hurting in the least. There might be a recession, but it sure isn’t evident from Kaiser's corporate profits.
And now, Kaiser is raising rates on thousands of California teachers, who are already severely affected by cutbacks and layoffs. These folks, who are responsible for educating our youth, will have an even harder time keeping their jobs while their school districts have their budgets strained even more than they already are to beef up Kaiser's profits. All because people like George Halvorson are GREEDY and think they are entitled to MORE. More money, more pensions, Better Health Coverage, the list goes on.
Join NUHW's labor and community allies and tell Kaiser that rate hikes for teachers and cuts for healthcare workers are not okay.
As I said, there may be a recession, but it’s not evident at the top levels of Kaiser. Kaiser's CEO, George Halvorson, has EIGHT – yes you heard right – eight pensions! His golden years really will be golden. He can rest easy knowing he has the Cadillac of health plans to help keep him healthy while he spends all that money.
Why am I telling you this? It’s simple. We need to stand together. Teachers, Healthcare workers. Verizon workers. All of us. Our greatest strength is our solidarity. When we stand together, we can accomplish great things. I need your help to protect my future, the future of my children and my grandchildren. I need your help to ensure our educators have good, affordable healthcare, so that they will be able to do their jobs to the best of their ability. After all, they have our future – the next generation – in their hands.
Will you help? Tell Kaiser they need to put patients, and those who care for patients, before profits!
Please take action right now and tell Kaiser CEO George Halvorson "Enough is Enough!"
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