When the steering committee for the Health Care Workers Council (HCWC) held their inaugural meeting last year, they set a wide-reaching and ambitious mission: to engage and unify USW Health Care Workers.
Last week, the group reconvened in Pittsburgh to evaluate their progress and make a strategic plan for moving forward.
This includes working with the union’s Rapid Response program to help push legislation to protect and benefit health care workers, as well as looking for opportunities for health care workers to engage in organizing.
“We need to take chances. We need to be daring. We need to take on fights down the line to eliminate injustices members are facing in their workplaces,” said International Vice President Fred Redmond, who coordinates bargaining in the health care sector.
The HCWC steering committee was a result of a resolution passed at the 2017 Constitutional Convention. It called for each District Director with health care locals to appoint a staff and member coordinator to the committee.
The work the coordinators did over the past year has looked slightly different in each district, based on their needs and resources.
Nicole Greene, member coordinator for District 7, said that even though there are only a handful of health care units in her district, she and her director, Mike Millsap, committed to visiting each one in person so they could better understand their concerns.
“We got great feedback,” said Greene. “There was one nursing home where they were holding members’ paychecks the day we visited. Director Millsap was able to get involved right away and give them justice.”
The group also counted the 2018 Health Care Conference that was held in Lexington, Ky., to be one of their big successes, delivering sector-specific information on bargaining, health and safety, workplace violence and more to a record 180 participants.
As the group continues its work, both staff and member coordinators are looking forward to more of these kinds of interactions, both one on one and through regional trainings, to help disseminate the information from the health care conference.
“I want to see us get more health care members in District 7,” said Greene, “but I want to see the ones we have more engaged. I’d be happy with seeing that they get better contracts and that people are better trained.”