June 23, 2014
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY – Amnesty International Executive Director Steven W. Hawkins joined nurses and healthcare workers at Mt. Sinai Medical Center for their picketing on June 18th and pledged the support of Amnesty's 3 million activists.
"Workers' rights are human rights. Fair pay is a human right. Equity is a human right. And quality healthcare benefits are a human right," said Hawkins. "Amnesty International stands with 1199SEIU and the 110,000 nurses and caregivers in negotiations. We demand dignity for healthcare workers as they care for our families and communities."
"The healthcare workers of 1199 have always had a larger mission to advocate for social justice, so we are deeply honored to have the backing of the world's pre-eminent human rights organization, Amnesty International," said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. "We have stood side by side with Amnesty for the rights of women, people of color, workers, immigrants, youth and the LGBT community. Now we look forward to working with our sisters and brothers in Amnesty to protect quality healthcare and good jobs for all New Yorkers."
On Wednesday, June 18, tens of thousands of nurses and caregivers began protests for quality care and good jobs at 100 facilities throughout the New York City area. The "informational picket lines" at hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other facilities mark the launch of an effort to educate patients and the public about healthcare CEOs who are now threatening the quality of healthcare services and jobs for New Yorkers.
The nurses and healthcare workers of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East have been in master contract negotiations with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, the group representing most private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics in downstate New York. Employers are threatening radical changes to health benefits, cutbacks to staffing and reduced services to patients.