For Immediate Release: November 21, 2023
(Statewide, PA) – SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania’s Executive Board released a statement in response to the Israel-Palestine conflict and the ongoing violence in Gaza.
The SEIU Healthcare PA Executive Board’s statement reads in part:
“As healthcare workers we are called to serve and to help people heal.
“We know the importance of physical and psychological safety. We know that communities must have access to basic necessities and the freedom to live without the threat of terror and violence as the foundation for basic health…
“As healthcare workers, we know how important it is for governments to invest in healthcare and basic human needs. In this conflict we once again see there are always plenty of dollars and resources for war, but not enough for healthcare and basic human needs.”
(The full statement from the Executive Board can be read below).
“As a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit nurse, I see all these resources going to war while we can’t seem to find the necessary funds to care for our patients. We know that the majority of the population in Gaza are children under the age of 18. Those are the people affected the most. Those are the people who are hurt and dying. I can’t just stand by and watch as people of the world suffer in a war that our country is allocating resources to. I want to see our country and the world focused on people’s wellness and building peace. I support a ceasefire so lives can be saved. That is my job and the oath I’ve taken to protect and help others,” said Nancy Himmelberger, a PICU RN at Hershey Medical Center and a member of the Executive Board of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.
“I believe there is broad consensus that we must provide life-sustaining medical care, clean drinking water, food and shelter to those who are suffering, injured, and displaced because of this conflict. Long term, we must all commit ourselves to work towards a durable peace where all communities – including our own communities – can peacefully coexist and thrive. We must strive to live, embody, and act on these values,” said Erica Payne, a home care worker in Pittsburgh and also a member of the Executive Board.
Statement from the Executive Board of SEIU Healthcare PA on the Ongoing Violence in Israel and Palestine
We urgently call for global peace.
We condemn Hamas’ horrific attack on October 7, and express our deepest condolences to the families of the innocent civilians who were killed.
We condemn the response of a daily mass bombardment by the Israeli Government (with funding from our government) which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. We express our deepest condolences to the innocent civilians killed in Gaza.
We call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza to save as many lives as possible.
We call for the immediate and safe return of all hostages held by Hamas and for the safe release of any Palestinians detained without due process.
We categorically condemn antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any hate crime or retaliation against any group who peaceably shares and expresses their opinions.
Our Values as a Union of Healthcare Workers:
As healthcare workers we are called to serve and to help people heal. We know the importance of physical and psychological safety. We know that communities must have access to basic necessities and the freedom to live without the threat of terror and violence as the foundation for basic health. We do not believe that further violence, like the mass bombardment will bring peace and health for Israelis, Palestinians or the entire region.
As healthcare workers, we know how important it is for governments to invest in healthcare and basic human needs. In this conflict we once again see there are always plenty of dollars and resources for war, but not enough for healthcare and basic human needs. As with all wars, this conflict is generating massive profits for the weapons manufacturing industry, while working people and families pay the price.
As union members who fight to ensure democracy, liberty, security, human and civil rights, and justice for all (not just for a select few or the wealthy), we support the struggle for collective liberation for all people of every religion and ethnicity.
We condemn any individual or organization that seeks to destroy, degrade, and oppress others.
Our Call to Action:
Therefore, as healthcare workers who advocate for those who need care and healing; and as unionists who fight for justice, freedom and rights for all people; we hereby call on President Biden and the US Government to take the following actions:
Demand that Hamas release all hostages and demand Israel release detained Palestinians who have not had due process, and any other hostages or detainees from this conflict.
Call for a full and immediate ceasefire in the face of escalating deaths and a rapidly unfolding humanitarian crisis.
Prioritize getting immediate and consistent humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Call for an immediate restoration of food, water, electricity, internet to all of Gaza.
Work diligently and aggressively for diplomatic and negotiated solutions for lasting justice, security and safety, and peace for Palestinians, Israelis and all people in this region.