1199NE SEIU members who provide mental health services at two Connecticut facilities will hold a rally Friday to call on their employers to recognize their service and sacrifice, increase wages, provide affordable benefits and staffing that protects the safety of patients and providers alike. They will also demand legislators to approve an 8% increase in state funding for mental health services to allow them the resources necessary to provide quality care amidst a statewide mental health crisis. During the action, workers at Gilead Community Services and Sound Community Services will hold votes to strike if Gilead and Sound fail to meet the needs of staff and patients.
Over the last several decades, Connecticut state leaders have outsourced public mental health work to nonprofits like Gilead and Sound in an effort to cut costs. As a result, many of the professionals who provide critical mental health and addiction services are grossly underpaid. These workers, the majority of whom are Black and Brown women and immigrants, are struggling to sustain their families while providing essential care to a growing population of residents struggling with mental health and addiction issues.
The low wages and unmanageable stress of the work at Gilead and Sound has led to dangerous staffing shortages and record high turnover. Because of this, patients with severe, complex health issues are not getting the specialized care they need, creating unsafe working conditions where healthcare providers are being stalked, threatened and attacked by clients.
WHO: Mental healthcare providers with 1199NE SEIU
WHAT: Action to raise demands for living wages, affordable benefits, safe work environments; strike vote if Gilead and Sound fail to meet providers’ and clients’ needs
WHEN: Friday, March 18 at 12:00 pm ET
WHERE: Gilead Community Services, 222 Main Street Extension, Middletown, CT
“We are running ourselves ragged trying to provide the dedicated, lifesaving care our patients need with a skeleton staff and few resources at hand. At the same time, most of us are struggling to keep up with our rent and our bills, going without health insurance because we can’t afford it, and fearing for our safety on the job. The work we do is essential and we deserve better,” said Carla Martin, a Recovery Assistant at Gilead Community Services.