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.