Our newest members are fighting to secure COVID testing

September 16th, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

Since the onset of the pandemic, we have successfully organized healthcare workers at jails in Sonoma and Stanislaus counties. These caregivers, including nurses and mental health professionals, are employed by Wellpath, a private company that also employs our members at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County.

While our new members started organizing to safeguard their jobs and improve their health benefits, they are now using their newfound power to join with our members at Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail to make Wellpath protect them and their patients from COVID-19.

As our union made clear with a commentary this week in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, correctional facilities are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks — more than 200 incarcerated people at Santa Rita have already contracted the virus — yet the state has not mandated regular testing for caregivers or patients as it has for those at nursing homes.

At the jails where we represent healthcare workers, Wellpath has refused to test our members who have been exposed to the virus and stockpiled N95 respirator masks that did not meet federal guidelines. Over the next few weeks, our members will be demanding that Wellpath provide them with regular COVID-19 testing, and they will go public with their concerns if Wellpath refuses to comply.

While we advocate for our members working in correctional facilities, we are also continuing to advocate for reforming the criminal justice system in our state. Last year, we helped elect Chesa Boudin as San Francisco District Attorney. Boudin campaigned on a platform of eliminating cash bail, establishing a unit to re-evaluate wrongful convictions and refusing to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with raids and arrests. This year, we have endorsed George Gascon, who has pledged to pursue major reforms in Los Angeles if he is elected the county’s next district attorney.

Please contact us with any COVID-related questions or concerns at your workplace by emailing COVID19@nuhw.org. Also check out our resource page at NUHW.org/covid19.

 

In Unity,

Sal Rosselli, President
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-Treasurer
National Union of Healthcare Workers