Like many poor communities, Bridgeport’s Eastside has seen an increase in violence recently. But after a client entered Greater Bridgeport Mental Health Center over the Labor Day weekend with a fully loaded automatic handgun, 1199 members banded together to do something about the threat to clients, staff and the public.
Fortunately, healthcare staff were able to disarm the client, but this was not the first instance of lethal weapons being brought into the state mental health facility that serves clients with serious mental illness. Previously, bullets had been found in the clothes dryer there.
Right away, 1199 delegates circulated a petition signed by more than 200 members calling on management to install metal detectors to insure safety for the clients, staff and the public. Delegates met with management asking for immediate measures to be put in place to make the building safe for all.
At first, management refused. But, responding to the petition, the Deputy Commissioner for Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services came to the facility and met with more than 100 members. Members repeated their demand for metal detectors and other safety measures, such as cameras in the stairwell and panic buttons in offices.
As the union made plans for a rally and news conference to expose the safety risk to all who use the facility, management conceded and announced that metal detectors would be in place by the end of the month. 1199 members at Greater Bridgeport Mental Health Center demonstrated what strength in numbers and a willingness to take united action at a facility can accomplish.