In the Fight of Our Lives: Healthcare Workers Speak Out

From the front lines of struggle against Covid-19 members and allies of Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra came together to produce this video of personal testimony and a collective statements in support of the National Healthcare Day of Action on April 15, 2020. Watch the video above and we have reproduced their statement below.

Heathcare Workers Statement and Demands

This crisis has made healthcare workers around the world realize that we need to stand up and speak out for a new system. Right now thousands of people are dying and suffering, including hundreds of our colleagues, because of a system that prioritizes profit and competition over human needs and cooperation. We support the Healthcare Workers National Day of Action because the most important thing for us right now is to organize and fight.

We know that the lack of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is real. We believe that factories need to be nationalized and converted into producing PPE and ventilators. We need to recognize medical equipment as a public good. Being able to quickly carry out massive amounts of testing will be critical in the coming months. We need to void patents that limit the sharing of lifesaving knowledge and fight to maximize the production of testing mediums.

We need to end international sanctions on countries like Iran and Venezuela so that they are able to access the equipment and medicine they need. We need international collaboration and solidarity between healthcare workers around the world.

Many people are staying home sick because they are worried about how they will pay for treatment. Millions of Americans have lost their healthcare coverage through lay-offs. In the coming recession, we are going to watch patients die for senseless reasons like not getting the cancer screening they needed after losing their healthcare. We need to fight for universal healthcare for all. Right now winning, Medicare for All is a real possibility if we build a strong movement for it, but we also need to be clear that this is only a baby step forward towards the kind of healthcare system we need.
Like every crisis, this pandemic has exposed the inequalities created by racism and capitalism in this country. With Black people dying at a much higher rate than whites, we need governments to shift resources to Black, brown and indigenous communities to combat the inequalities in the healthcare system.

We need to address the wage inequalities within healthcare. Many of our staff make poverty wages while risking their lives. All front line workers are equally important and we reject the hierarchical stratification of wages. We need a national $15 minimum wage with hazard pay, along with adequate sick leave for those who have to quarantine, and paid family medical leave for those who need to stay safe at home or take care of others.

Our Long Term Goals in This Fight

We hope that you will join with us in fighting for these immediate emergency measures to fight the covid-19 pandemic. But we also know that we have been fighting since long before this crisis, and will need to keep fighting long after. It is not enough to bandage the wounds of our wounded society. We need to cure the disease that is killing us and our planet. We need a revolution against the cancer of capitalism.

Although Medicare for All will save many lives, it is only the bare minimum that we need to survive. We will continue fighting for a healthcare system where patients are not pushed around by a dehumanizing bureaucracy and workers aren’t exploited by 20 layers of healthcare administrators. We will keep fighting to create a healthcare system that is run democratically by workers and patients; and that treats people as full humans and not just collections of symptoms.

Taking the production and distribution of critical medical equipment out of the private market will help us respond to future crises. But ultimately we do not want the government or anyone as our boss, and in every workplace we must keep fighting for worker self-management.

If you enjoyed this piece we recommend reading “The Case for Building New Unions” or our labor analysis and strategy piece “The State of Labor: Beyond Unions, But Not Without Them.”