Members of several different unions came together at the SEIU Labor Hall in Fresno to create a coalition aimed at promoting health and wellness in the Central Valley. The meeting was called to talk specifically about the San Joaquin Valley Insurance Authority (SJVIA), but broader themes emerged as we talked about our experiences accessing healthcare and the environmental challenges that come with living in the San Joaquin Valley. SJVIA provides insurance for a number of Local 521-represented agencies in the Central Valley.
Members took time to dig into the details of healthcare and SJVIA and came out with a much better understanding of how we can begin to influence our health plans and educate their co-workers and friends. There was a presentation on how to talk about healthcare rates at the bargaining table and another on the finances of SJVIA. In a few hours, we learned that we do have the power to make a difference and that while healthcare is complicated, simple solutions and changes can have a large impact on cost and quality of care.
“We’re not just here for ourselves. We’re here for the retirees and for our kids, the next generation,” said Kathleen Wilmes, a Self-Sufficiency Support Assistant II in Tulare County.
As our coalition grows, we’re gathering people who want to become agents of change in their communities. We’re working to unleash the power of our friends, neighbors and families to live, work, and grow without the constant threat of losing their insurance or the constant stress of not having any access to healthcare. We believe that by coming together, we can have a powerful voice and exert some control over our healthcare rather than allow our healthcare be another thing happening to us. Each of our voices and stories are valuable. Our combined voices and stories can inform the present and change the future.
If you haven’t filled out the Better Valley Health survey, start here.
If you want to be part of the #BetterValleyHealth Facebook group, click here.
As Bobby Bloyd with Operating Engineers Local 39 said, “We’re all a family in this together, that’s why we’re here.”