Diane Sosne RN, MN leads the 22,000 member union SEIU Healthcare 1199NW for nurses, healthcare, and mental health workers in Washington State. She advocates for safe staffing and lifting for nurses, workforce training funds for healthcare workers to advance into nursing, and social justice issues for working families. Diane is a founding member of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, and was previously a psychiatric nurse at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. She currently sits on the International Executive Board for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Washington "Single payer" conference
350 health care activists attended a conference at Seattle university Jun22 1996, organized by the Washington Single Payer Action Network. Craig Salins, the organization's president hoped the conference could become a launching pad for a "greatly broadened crusade to win affordable, quality health care for all Washingtonians."
Rep. Jim McDermott addressed the conference. McDermott (prime sponsor of HR-1200, the single payer bill in Congress) predicted a social upsurge in which the people will demand "get the profiteers out of health care. Period!"
Diane Sosne, a RN and president of District 1199 NW described the impact of market economics on health care workers.
Health care protest
Chanting, "Health care, health care," protesters shut down Republican Party headquarters in Seattle Oct. 5. 1995, Following a huge rally against Medicare/Medicaid cuts at Harborview Medical Center, about 100 people moved to the GOP offices two miles away. Several demonstrators noisily entered the office, taking staffers by surprise. When asked to leave, the protesters sat down.
A "Message to the Republican Party," read by Service Employees local President Diane Sosne and K. L. Shannon, co- chair, Seattle organizing committee of Jobs with Justice, said, in part, "In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., we are holding this non-violent sit-in to express our outrage over the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. You have not given the American people fair hearings on Medicare and Medicaid. We must raise our voices against this gross economic discrimination and subversion of the democratic process."
The statement called on the Republicans to withdraw their support for the cuts and for tax breaks to wealthy individuals and corporations.
The group continued shouting slogans and singing solidarity songs, supported by a large group outside the building, and kept the Republican staff from doing their work for an hour- and-a-half.
"What we were in effect saying to them was, 'You're creating a crisis in our lives; we're going to create a crisis in your life'," explained Jonathan Rosenblum, organizer for Washington State Jobs with Justice.
Leading up to the "invasion," approximately 500 people showed up at noon at Harborview, the main trauma center for the four northwest states. The program included testimony from two people whose family members had received crucial care at Harborview, where care will be drastically reduced if these cuts go through; and from Judy Price, 1199 leader and a Harborview nurse. A small acting troupe wearing death masks went into the street with others to block traffic for a few minutes.
Tony Lee, community action director of the Fremont Public Association, pointed out that, under the proposed cuts, "Washington state will get the second biggest hit in the country. By 2002 our state will lose over a billion dollars."
When police arrived at the GOP headquarters, they arrested 31 demonstrators, handcuffed them and put them on a metro bus. Those arrested included nine seniors and four registered nurses, plus others in the health services field. When they arrived at the Seattle police station, the group insisted that the oldest member, Communist Party USA member Irene Hull, 82, and two other women whose canes had been taken from them, be released from the handcuffs and processed first. The spirit and solidarity of those arrested remained high throughout.