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Security Officers Who Guard Kaiser Hospitals Protest Lack of Access to Affordable Healthcare

Security officers wear surgical masks and hold signs that say, "Swine Flu is even more scary when you don't have affordable health insurance"

HAYWARD, Calif., May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Security officers who guard Kaiser Permanente facilities donned surgical masks and held signs in front of the Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center to protest how rolling back health benefits puts themselves and their families at risk. The officers, who interact with thousands of people entering Kaiser facilities every day, say that they are left at risk from infectious illnesses because they cannot afford healthcare for themselves or their families.

"Swine flu is a risk we security officers at Kaiser face," said Jagdeep Singh, a mother of three who works at Kaiser's Hayward Medical Center. "Without health insurance that I can afford, what I am I supposed to do if I get sick? Or, if one of my children get sick? I have no good way to protect the health of my kids or myself."

Kaiser recently brought in Securitas, a Sweden-based security contractor who immediately cut the health benefits offered to security officers who work at Kaiser facilities. Securitas recently boasted a 3 percent increase in first quarter earnings of 2009, showing profitability at a time of severe economic strain in the United States.

While Kaiser publicly supports healthcare reform the very security officers who protect their facilities across the country are struggling to afford health insurance. Security officers are the first line of defense at Kaiser Permanente healthcare facilities, ensuring patient and healthcare providers' safety. Yet, some workers can't afford medical care at the very hospitals they protect.

Speakers at the event said that if Kaiser wants to be a leading voice for healthcare reform they should set an example by urging its contractors -- including Securitas -- to provide affordable, quality healthcare to their employees.

Security officers at Kaiser Permanente facilities have been fighting to improve standards in the private security industry so they can earn fair wages and healthcare that can support a family. There are approximately 1,500 security officers who guard Kaiser facilities in California, and another 300 in other locations outside of California.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Locals 24/7 and SOULA 2006 are part of SEIU United Service Workers West, representing more than 40,000 janitors, security officers, airport service workers, and other property service workers across California. SEIU is the fastest growing labor union in the Americas with more than 2 million members.

SOURCE Service Employees International Union
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