The LA County Board of Supervisors heard directly from our Union at their most recent meeting on Tuesday – and we reminded them how our essential work has kept LA County operational, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are the safety net … and we deserve Heroes Pay for All!
“At one point, 167 of our hospital’s 220 beds were filled with COVID patients. Our team worked overtime to place recovering patients in homes, hotels, short-term shelters and other recuperative care facilities so we could maintain capacity to care for patients with acute care needs. In the middle of all of this, my family and I contracted COVID-19. While I was quarantined, I kept working via teleconferencing – decompressing the hospital and placing recovering patients. My work was essential, and I pressed on, no matter what.”
Cynthia Magdaleno, Medical Case Worker, Olive View Medical Center
“Everybody’s life was turned upside down because of the pandemic. But expectations of our jobs as social workers did not go down. We had to get the job done – no matter the cost to us. That meant tons of travel not just from home to office but throughout the field. And it also meant finding creative ways to do our jobs. Our clients are people. They were scared of the virus, too. They also feared exposure. In-person visits could potentially be deadly. Social workers had to be resourceful, and imaginative, to build clients’ trust. We did our duty – and we still do. We overcame the challenges and connected people to services they needed. We did this even though there was not always access to protective equipment during a deadly pandemic.”
Geetha Amuthasakaran, Children’s Social Worker, DCFS
“Social distancing created a massive problem in my line of work. People need human connection to develop a truly therapeutic relationship. That connection helps us gain trust and consistency with a person whose life is fragile and lacking human connection. But social distancing increases the feeling of isolation and despair.
For people who are suffering – especially those turning to drugs and alcohol to cope – treating them becomes an even bigger challenge. As an example: I got a call from a family whose son had turned to meth to cope. While using, he was shot three times – ending up in a county hospital for 2 months. For him to really recover, it was just as critical to treat his intertwined substance abuse and mental health issues as it was to treat his gunshot wounds. During COVID, we had to rely on virtual visits – not the same as in-person. We made it work – and my client made it through. This is what we mean when we say that we are the safety net.”
Lawrence Reyes, Senior Community Worker, Department of Mental Health
“DPH Nurses continued to take care of all our population even with extreme staffing shortages, limited and/or no PPE until August. We have watched our peers die and have lived in fear that we were going to die or infect our families. There have been more than 262 COVID-19-related deaths of LA County healthcare workers and first responders.”
“Some DPH Nurses were mandated to work overtime, mandated to work in offices, health facilities, skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, homes and communities across LA County. We stepped up to do what it takes to bring us out of the pandemic. And it not over yet!”
Markeitha Harris, Public Health Nurse, DCFS
We will keep everyone posted on the status of our contract bargaining negotiations with LA County.
In the meantime, check out pictures from the Unity Actions we’ve been hosting all this week.
We’re determined remind the Board of Supervisors that we mean business when it comes to getting Heroes Pay for All, coverage for anticipated healthcare premium cost increases … and more.
An update from our Bargaining Policy Committee indicates that – through our meetings, actions and social media activity – SEIU 721 members are sending the Board of Supervisors a very clear message.
We demand and deserve Heroes Pay and a COLA! We put our lives on the line defending and protecting nearly 11 million people across LA County – so it’s time for LA County to reward our sacrifices.
We are the safety net. We are essential.
And we are #UnionStrong!