By Bob Schoonover
Now that the Coronavirus pandemic is literally upon us, it is safe to say that we are living in unprecedented times. For years, the members of SEIU 721 have reminded our employers and the public at-large that we are the safety net. Indeed, times like the ones we are living in now prove how timeless that declaration is.
While the general public is taking steps en masse to hunker down in the safety of their homes on a scale akin to wartime, many of our members continue bravely showing up for work each day because we know that emergencies like the Coronavirus pandemic are precisely when the public needs our safety net the most. It is not just our job but our duty to keep the wheels of society turning – from nurses and RNs to lab techs and ER techs; from respiratory therapists and pharmacists to clerical staff and custodial staff; from elder care workers and food service workers to 9-1-1 operators and sanitation personnel.
The list of frontline workers is lengthy and every position is critical. You know who you are – because you bravely step out the door each day to take your position on the front lines. As President of SEIU 721, I am proud of every single one of you. From the bottom of my heart: THANK YOU.
So many members of our union are already demonstrating model commitment and courage. It is no exaggeration to say that, together, we are keeping Southern California’s safety net intact. If the public calls 9-1-1, they know someone will answer and send assistance. If they need emergency healthcare, they know that their local hospital is open and they will get treated. If they rely on our In-Home Supportive Services staff for care, or our Human Services Agency personnel for help, they know that they will get it. And if they simply are keeping all of us safe by staying at home, they know that our sanitation and security personnel are keeping public health and safety our top priority just by showing up and doing their jobs.
Because of the specifically health-related nature of the Coronavirus threat, I do feel compelled to give an extra round of praise to all personnel on the front lines at every one of our healthcare sites. These include – but are not limited to – Riverside Community Hospital; the LAC+USC Medical Center; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital; Harbor-UCLA Medical Center; Olive View-UCLA Medical Center; Antelope Valley Hospital; the Ventura County Medical Center; Santa Paula Hospital; and all the community clinics. Because of you, we have hope.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who governed during arguably some of the most challenging times facing not just America but the world, famously declared: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This statement is as true now as it was then. We have soldiered through major calamities before and we will survive this one, too. Remember: We are the safety net. Together, we will be brave. We are the front lines – and, together, we will hold the line.