SEIU: We will do everything we can to protect our workers from COVID-19

Union workers demand paid sick leave for all employees, free COVID-19 Testing

DETROIT, Mich. – Union healthcare leaders are taking steps to ensure all workers are protecting during the outbreak of COVID-19 in Michigan. As more patients are diagnosed with COVID-19, SEIU Healthcare Michigan is demanding employers take immediate action to ensure patients and employees are safe. 

“If not addressed immediately, the COVID-19 virus has the potential to overrun our healthcare systems,” said Andrea Acevedo, President of SEIU Healthcare Michigan, “Our healthcare workers will be pushed to the brink, therefore we need to take steps now to ensure they are protected.” 

SEIU Healthcare Michigan represents over 11,000 healthcare workers in homecare, nursing homes, and hospitals. This week, SEIU sent an MOU to all facilities it represents, demanding a number of measures for all employers to take, including to but not limited to: 

  • Paid administrative leave for all workers that have been exposed to COVID-19
  • All testing and treatment for COVID-19 paid by for employers
  • No repercussions for employees notifying their employer if they believe they may have come into contact with COVID-19
  • Personal Protective Equipment will be provided by the Employer at an employee’s request

“These measures are the first step to ensure that all our workers are protected,” said Acevedo, “Failure to adapt these would put all workers and patients at risk for infection of COVID-19.”

Healthcare workers have been joining the chorus of voices demanding paid sick leave and free testing on their facilities. Workers on low-wages who do not have paid sick leave are at risk to show up to work sick on the job. Acevedo fears that a breakout could be devastating once it hits a nursing home. 

COVID-19 has hit older and immune-deficient populations much harder than other population groups. Not surprisingly, nursing homes represent some of the most vulnerable patients to COVID-19. The outbreak in the state of Washington hit one particular nursing home hard, inflicting the virus on nearly all of the staff members and patients. At the Life Care Center in Seattle alone, 63 residents have been infected and 22 people have died from COVID-19.

Nursing Homes are often a breeding ground for infection diseases and viral outbreaks. Izella Harris, a caregiver at Imperial Nursing Home in Dearborn Heights, described how a stomach bug ravaged her nursing home a few months.

“Employees had diarrhea, but we still had to come to work,” said Harris. 

Diarrhea, vomiting and, fever ran rampant in the nursing home. A Limited amount of available sick days for workers made the spread of the virus worse. 

“We cannot allow greed and profit-driven motives to put our nursing home workers and patients at risk,” said Acevedo, “This is about health and safety for everyone.”

SEIU Healthcare Michigan has set-up an email address for any workers concerned about COVID-19 not being taken seriously enough in their facilities. You can contact them at workersafety@seiuheathcaremi.org

 

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