Black and Latino essential workers gathered outside the health clinic at the Olive View Medical Center in Sylmar on Wednesday, July 28, demanding better and affordable care from Los Angeles County.
The county currently subcontracts more than 2,000 security officers, environmental service workers (EVS), housekeepers, and food service workers who have “worked side by side” with other county workers throughout the pandemic, said event organizers from the SEIU and USWW unions.
“These essential workers — the majority of whom are Brown, Latinx, and immigrants — do not have access to the same healthcare benefits as county employees and have had to work throughout the pandemic with limited to no healthcare coverage,” according to an event spokesperson
“That is why SEIU locals USWW and Local 721 are coming together today to provide these workers with the healthcare that they so desperately need for them and their families because essential workers should not go without essential benefits,” a spokesperson said.
One food service worker from the UCLA Harbor Medical Center, Carla McGraw, said, “I need to borrow money from my children to pay for my insulin. I am a diabetic. I don’t have the option not to have it. If I do not have my insulin, I could die within a week. It is extremely stressful to live like this.”
Event officials say county Board of Supervisors has the ability to change the lives of these essential workers and their families, “yet has so far refused to act.”
Event organizers pointed to the remarks of Supervisor Hilda Solis, who earlier this year said the county’s recently passed 2021-22 budget, “not only represents my priorities as Chair to serve the needs of the 10 million constituents in Los Angeles County, but also an affirmation to distributing resources among the communities that suffered the gravest consequences from the pandemic, particularly Black and Latinx residents.”
But “the Board’s unwillingness to step up to do the right thing has forced labor unions locals such as USWW and 721 to step up in order for these contracted essential workers to receive some type of affordable healthcare,” event organizers stated in a release.
Along with the outside gathering, the protestors also marched to the office of Kimberly McKenzie, RN and chief executive officer of Los Angeles County Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, with a letter addressed to her asking for her to push for affordable healthcare for our contracted workers.