Multicare is a privately owned “non-profit” that owns and operates a chain of hospitals and clinics throughout the Pacific Northwest, among them Tacoma General Hospital. Many of the workers for Multicare are represented by UFCW Local 21, WSNA (nurses), SEIU 1199 NW, and Operating Engineers 286. Like most employers nowadays, Multicare has been engaged in attacks on its workers, including successfully eliminating a pension plan for new employees as of almost 15 years ago. In a more recent contract, after it was settled, they tried to cut the health benefits they’d agreed to – an attempt that was such a blatant contract violation that even an arbitrator ruled against them!
Another attack on workers living standard is being carried out by their increased use of on-call workers. These workers have no guaranteed hours, meaning that if they speak up they can be penalized by simply having their hours reduced. They also don’t get health benefits.
Multicare At It Again
Now Multicare is at it again, trying to cut health benefits. A spirited group of workers and their supporters recently picketed outside two restaurants which are owned by one of the board members of Multicare. A member of the local explains: “Our recent union contract agreed to have our pensions frozen. Now they want to make me pay more for health care. I’m getting older. This plan would cut into how much I’m able to save for retirement. For the lower paid workers this would have more immediate effects.
This is the same story as many other union contracts: They more you give, the more they want to take away. The fact that the strategy of the union leadership at best has no answer to this only demoralizes members even more and makes them feel even more alienated from the union. They are now putting all their eggs in the Hillary Clinton basket, while she has proven her value… to Corporate America.
- The members who organized the protest at Luke Xitco’s restaurants have the right idea.The first step union leadership could take would be to call for a meeting of the members, families and supporters of all the workers for Multicare.
- This would be a step towards linking up with different community groups to truly build massive protests, where they connect what’s happening at Multicare with the need to take profits out of the healthcare industry – for a publicly run national health care system.
- Also, at this election time, we should follow the lead of IUPAT Local 10, which is calling for a mass workers party.
These steps would be a start in reversing the offensive of US and world capitalism.