Amid ongoing demonstrations in defense of Black lives across the country, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin released the following statement:
“We are a union made up of healthcare workers—Black, white, and brown—who are committed to providing care and working toward a healthier society for all. We join in solidarity with those expressing pain, anger, and outrage at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee and countless other Black lives.
“Americans face two deadly viruses: COVID-19 and racism. The protests in the street to demand justice for George Floyd are also a condemnation of the systemic racism and economic inequality that have left Black Americans suffering the worst economic and health outcomes in our society, both before COVID-19 and during.
“All people, regardless of our race or where we live, should be able to access quality, affordable healthcare and treatment. While people of all identities and backgrounds mourn the more than 105,000 lives lost to COVID-19, it is undeniable that Black Americans and other communities of color have been hit the hardest. Because of systemic inequities that deny equal access to healthcare and treatment, and jobs that pay a living wage or provide paid sick leave, Black and brown people are more likely to be exposed to this virus and die.
“Systemic racism is a public health crisis in itself. If we as healthcare workers are committed to providing quality care and promoting public health, we must work toward dismantling the systemic racism and economic inequality that serve as barriers to good health.
“Further, we are dismayed to see how quickly our elected leaders can find money and willpower to militarize their police forces in response to crowds of majority peaceful protestors who are demanding justice. At the same time, three months into this crisis, healthcare workers are still desperately calling for proper PPE to keep us safe on the job. Our priorities must be on protecting the health and safety of all.
“To be clear, we are not demanding a return to “normal”—where Black lives are under constant threat, where millions work hard but struggle to survive, where people die preventable deaths because they cannot afford healthcare coverage, where our jobs are considered essential but our lives are not. We need fundamental change.
“As a union and a multi-racial movement of working people, we are committed now more than ever to fighting for economic and racial justice.
“Finally, we encourage all those who have attended protests to demand justice to please do what you can to self-isolate and self-monitor. If you begin showing symptoms, please get tested for COVID-19. Please, wear a mask. We can protect each other and help slow down the spread. For more on symptoms and where to go for COVID-19 testing in Wisconsin, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/testing.htm
“Black Lives Matter.”