Defending the Public Sector

Date and Time:
Sunday, August 24, 10:20AM-11:30AM, ILWU Local 6 Hall, Auditorium 2

Presenters: Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, New York State Nurses Association and American Postal Workers Union (speaker TBA), Veterans Administration unionist (TBA)

Description: Efforts to win single-payer healthcare have become entwined with a march broader fight against a right-wing narrative that portrays government as universally inefficient and corrupt. This has resulted in funding cuts, a wave of public hospital closings, and privatization efforts (including the Veterans Administration). This workshop discusses fightback strategies, messaging, and how to move from the defensive to the offensive in building an equitable and just economy.

Notes by Conference Participants:

Privitizing Post Offices

Andrew Carriaga – US Postal Service –it is recognized in the constitution, not using tax payer money but instead generated $65B in revenue

-move to privatize it –ie. trucking of mail, sorters, private – Pitney Bowles,

-PO pays $5.6M per year in health benefits – were forced by act of Congress to have in reserve 75 years of future pensions – if it is sold to a private co. they would get these reserves-this decision was made during Bush years in the middle of night

-postal workers are first responders and played an important role in helping people during Hurricane Sandy- they perform a public good in addition to delivering mail

-as Post Offices are privatized they are shifting the retail side of post offices to Staples they are hiring low paid workers – not screened like Federal workers are , shorter hours when they close plants it slows mail delivery, reduces standards –Postal workers are organizing and teachers in Oregon are boycotting staples - see film Gone Postal

-federal employees can’t endorse candidates or strike but can have informational picketing, patrons can wear buttons and talk to people while in the post office about the situation, should point out that will lose home delivery of mail

Discrediting of Veterans Administration Rhonda, VA Nurse-

-most Veterans love their care – when attacked ask for definition of Socialized medicine –media has been attacking Va- sometimes falsely. National Nurses Assoc. has a strong presence in VA hospitals as well as AFGE, NEFI, SEIU

Privitizing of Public Hospitals – Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez – President, NYS Nurses Association

-in NYC she is seeng the destruction of communities, the poor are pushed out – Gentrification-hospitals are being defunded, physical plants deteriorating –hospitals are closing (the same thing is happening to schools and the houses)-the public hospitals serve the uninsured- with the Bronze plans the cost has increased-more and more services are being privatized ie. Dialysis – there are fewer bed available –have fought along with 1199 against the closing of hospitals –

-took offensive – organized ambulance drivers and workers – told people to keep coming to the hospital and kept it open 1 ½ years – finally was closed-they were able to keep the Interfaith hospitals open – need co-operative hospitals and give more power and decision making to nurses.

-they are seeing more people in the ER because there aren’t enough primary care doctors –they continue to try to convert more to private facilities –we need to protect what we have people are- trying to vilify government -run health care because they are afraid of Single Payer-we need to go on the offensive

-the way hospitals are funded causes closings and pushing people out of hospitals too soon.

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