Friday, November 11, 2011

Occupy Grand Rapids Moves to Veterans Home to Protest for Quality Care

Happy Veterans Day. While the Snyder administration sits on an estimated $500 million dollar surplus and still insists on taking trusted care aides away from our veterans to save a few bucks, Occupy Grand Rapids will spend this Veterans Day standing up for both quality health care and good jobs.

Occupy Grand Rapids picketers plan to move out of downtown Friday to protest proposed privatization at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, claiming those that fought for the country's freedom deserve the best care that can be offered.

GR Home for VeteransIn a Facebook post, the group says it will be occupying the grounds of the home, 3000 Monroe Ave. NE, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, which is Veteran's Day.

“Our veterans have fought hard and deserve to have us fight for them,” the post announcing the protest states. “Let's stand up and say we will not be held hostage by these profits before people policies.

“Tell (Gov. Rick) Snyder that we will not stand for experienced, hard working, public health care employees being replaced by inexperienced and underpaid workers. Caring for our vets is such an important job that it should be compensated with benefits and a fair living wage.”

The privatization of the Veterans Home aides is another story that has brought us national attention lately, as the NY Times cited this move as an example of how cutting middle-class union jobs for low wage workers simply shifts government costs to other programs and doesn't really save the taxpayers money in the long run.

The quality of services provided by contract workers, for example, may not be as consistent as that of experienced government employees. And taxpayers can end up paying for the cuts in more indirect ways.

What governments save in salaries and benefits often “ends up on the government books through all sorts of programs,” said Paul C. Light, a professor at the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, referring to unemployment insurance, Medicaid and other public assistance for workers earning low incomes.

Thanks to Occupy for bringing attention to this issue, and a salute to all our veterans today. Many national food chains are offering free food and/or discounts; get out and get yourself some good chow.