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Health Care Matters!

It certainly does, in a variety of different ways. Health care matters from the perspective of affordability, can each and every American afford health care? Health care matters from the perspective of access, does everyone have adequate access to meet their needs? Health care matters from a quality perspective, does every person receive the same quality of health care throughout their lifetime?

These are just a few of the questions addressed at the first annual Communications Workers of America (CWA) "Healthcare Matters" Conference held in mid-October at Vernon Downs, N.Y.

This three day event was attended by CWA health care workers from across the United States, including New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Iowa and as far away as California, representing job classifications from across the spectrum of health care such as IT, therapists, clerical, nurses, maintenance and much more.

They attended with many goals in sight. They wanted to learn more from a variety of workshops offered, to connect and network with other like-minded CWA members from other locals and to learn how to grow the union movement. They also wanted to hear from their highest-elected CWA officers, President Larry Cohen and District Vice President Chris Shelton.

There was a grand kick-off Sunday evening as President Cohen gave a moving speech about the importance of working with other unions, community groups, religious groups and others to achieve goals that any one group could not achieve alone. Shelton spoke about getting "fired up" for the upcoming November elections, how everyone needs to do their part to get President Obama re-elected. He also pointed out the dire consequences to the labor movement if we are not successful in this critical election. Also giving riveting and inspirational speeches were Pat Costello, president, Central New York Labor Council, Hon. Sean Ryan, Hon. Scott McNamara, Hon. Diane Savino and Mario Cilento, president of the New York AFL-CIO.

Monday and Tuesday were spent predominantly in various workshops such as IT trends, Conflict management, health care reform, Labor law, Abuse law, New unionism, Legislative issues and Safe patient handling. Workshop participants were educated on the issues, given new information and had the opportunity for questions and answers. Participants overwhelmingly rated these workshops as excellent.

In the midst of these workshops were several wonderful and well-known keynote speakers such as Suzanne Gordon, author of "Safety in Numbers" and "When Chicken Soup Isn't Enough," Hon. Mark Pearce, NLRB chair who talked about the important role of the NLRB, Anne Bove, RN and New York State Nurses Association Board member discussing Safe Staffing legislation and efforts to move that legislation forward next year.

The knowledge gained, comradery experienced and friendships developed cannot be replaced nor soon forgotten. This was the first Health Care Coordinating Council conference, but certainly it will not be the last.

CWA Health Care Coordinating Council
District 1

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