The local chapter of a major healthcare employee union relaxed for its annual summer cook-off but its leaders want members to brace themselves for healthcare reform.
At Fort Lincoln Park in Northeast Washington, Local 722 of the Services Employees International Union is having what looks like a typical company picnic.
But milling about are some of the group's regional and national leaders who want to prep the rank and file for the new healthcare landscape.
"I think every healthcare worker is gonna face a change".
That's Mary Kay Henry, a Vice President at SEIU. She says healthcare reform will mean many acute care hospital workers will transition to preventive care at outpatient clinics and she wants to make sure her members can survive the shift.
"We're trying to make sure they reach out to their co-workers in the hospital and explain how important it is to each and every one of us. And then also we are trying to educate people about the impact of the bills on them personally".
DC Councilman Tommy Thomas is also here. He's pleased that President Obama's healthcare initiatives could create new medical sector jobs once more people become insured. But he's critical of what he says is Mayor Fenty's drive to privatize the city's healthcare services.
"They have not negotiated in good faith with labor union. They have repeatedly attacked working men and women through privatization. So the Mayor's table needs to understand that we need to support them".
Local 722 recently signed a one-year agreement with the DC Children's Hospital. The group says it wants wait to negotiate a stronger long-term contract once better economic times finally arrive.
Mana Rabiee reports...