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LOCAL Review :: Labor & Class

Walking the Walk in Williamsburg, UE Local 160

The Virginia Public Service Workers, UE Local 160 held an outstanding rally to demand world class service for our clients and oppose Atlantic Shores from privatizing the Eastern State hospital in Williamsburg VA. Approximately 25 members, supporters and guests came out in the sweltering 95 degree heat. The Union prepared signs which said "Our clients deserve better than GEO", "We need more staff" and "Just say no to privatization". Some signs focused on Local Delegate Rapp and Senator Thomas Norment which also said "no to privatization". A bullhorn was available and some young male supporters had a field day chanting "Just say no to G E O."
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G E O is the parent company which is seeking to privatize Eastern State hospital. This is a multinational corporation which bought out Wackenhut security. The primarily privatize state run prisons. UE 160 also has very real concerns that G E O is interested in privatizing Western State hospital as well. Michael Banks (Chapter President) from the College of William and Mary came out to support our Eastern State chapter. An Activist (Seth) from the Tidewater Labor Support Committee also came out.

The staff and members of UE Local 160 Eastern State chapter fear the implications for their clients and themselves if the institution is privatized. G E O has already said they plan to cut jobs at eastern by 50%. This is outrageous for one of the states most prominent institutions. The insanity of this claim is that Eastern State is now starving for adequate staff. Employees are often forced to stay at work overtime as a normal part of their work schedule.

Eastern State needs more staff, not less. Our clients deserve good/world class Mental Health care and not a revolving door butcher shop which appears good at first sight but has significant ramifications to the clients, the community and the employees. IF Atlantic shores did take over we are confident that the grievance procedure would be eliminated, the Union would be destroyed and the employees would be filling out "new hire" applications. The worker would have nowhere to turn for assistance and conditions would become even worse.

The workers at Eastern state have been doing this work for well 100 years and we know how to do our jobs best. A shopping cart was also dressed up to symbolize the "future of mental Health care in VA." If our institutions are not cared for, supported and a maintained as a state institution(s).

We ask all Virginians to write or call you Delegate or Senator and tell them that our infrastructure needs more support and not privatizing our citizens' Mental Health care. Tell them to oppose privatizing any State run Mental Health institution. We can be contacted for more information at 1 888 868 6466 or www.vaue160.org In solidarity UE Local 160, The Virginia Public service Workers Union.
 
 


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