Adapted from the IAM District 751 Aero Mechanic.
Healthcare workers are the frontline heroes we rely on in our most vulnerable moments. They deserve a voice on the job and union representation to protect them and the patients in their care.
That’s why IAM District 751 is working to organize these workers and provide them with union contracts that offer protections. Recently, 751’s President and Directing Business Representative Jon Holden met with IAM’s Healthcare Director Shane Brinton to discuss how to best help healthcare workers in the Pacific Northwest.
“The pandemic taught the world many lessons, but one of the most powerful messages was that healthcare workers need a voice on the job. To protect themselves and their patients from harm,” said Holden. “That’s what a union contract can offer; a way for healthcare workers to join together in solidarity, with one voice, and speak up for better quality patient care.”
“As the IAM’s new Healthcare Director, I made District 751 one of my first field visits because the District and the Western Territory have had such impressive successes in organizing healthcare professionals,” said Brinton. “This is thanks to the leadership of Jon Holden and Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. We hope to harness that momentum and bring healthcare workers in Washington state and beyond the protections they deserve.”
“District 751 and the Western Territory have identified a strong need among healthcare professionals for solid union representation,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “We’re proud that the IAM continues to grow in this sector while putting workers’ rights and patient care at the forefront of our efforts.”
Today, nearly 10,000 healthcare professionals, including clinicians, technicians, and caregivers, call the IAM their union. That’s partly due to work done by District 751. According to the Washington Department of Health, more than 430,000 healthcare practitioners call this state home. It is one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy. But they need someone like the IAM in their corner. During the trip, Holden and Brinton met with 751-represented registered nurses and social workers from the hospice program at St. Joseph Medical Center, who shared stories about the campaign they ran to win union recognition and a contract.
“Union representation makes world-class patient care possible,” said Brinton. “Healthcare workers are natural advocates for their patients, yet they face consequences when they speak out about unsafe conditions. That’s because corporate executives call the shots in non-union facilities. But when healthcare professionals stand together in a union, they gain a powerful voice for safety and care standards that benefit both patients and workers.”
“The phrase we hear the most when organizing healthcare workers is that being a caregiver is a calling, not a profession,” explained Holden. “They want a union to be able to give their patients better care. Optimal staff to-patient ratio levels, safe working conditions, and rules that govern being able to speak up for their patients without fear of retaliation from their employer are the cornerstone principles a union contract can offer workers in the healthcare industry.”
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