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Health Care 2013: will the Chronicle be fair?

Heather Smith

I am Heather Smith. I have worked in the Prepress Department as a Graphic Designer for the San Francisco Chronicle for almost 13 years. In that time, the co-pay for a visit to my doctor has gone from $10 to $30 per visit. If it gets much higher, I will not be able to afford to get sick.

Uncertainty over health care causes me stress and there is a well-studied correlation between stress and diminishment of well-being. A healthy workforce is a more productive, efficient workforce. But the workers at this paper won’t be able to stay healthy if we cannot afford the routine check-ups and doctor visits that are a sign of a pro-active community of workers taking charge of their health.

Moreover, with a history of chronic migraines (as many as four a month), affordable health care allows me to maintain a supply of the pain medication that makes it possible for me to make it to work even on my pain-laden days.

With the proposed options that the union was given, my pay would effectively be reduced by over $1,500 per year, an amount I cannot afford in the high-priced Bay Area economy. And that is WITH the proposed annual raises factored in.

The workers took a pay hit during the last negotiations. It took me three years to just get back to my previous pay, and does not account for the yearly cost of living increases.

I sincerely hope Hearst will see the benefit of maintaining affordable health care, not only for its workers but for the economic health of the newspaper as a whole. A company thrives when its people thrive. And people thrive when they are well-cared for and healthy. I believe the staff has worked for the health of this newspaper and now it’s time for the newspaper to work for the health of its staff.

Kat Anderson

Kat Anderson

Pacific Media Workers Guild Administrative Officer/Business Agent, founder of Bay News Rising mentorship program for college journalism students and editor of mediaworkers.org.

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