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After Two Heart Attacks On The Job, Ohio Worker Wants Health Insurance

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SANDY DAILEY

WASHINGTON -- Sandy Dailey, 53, has been classified as a part-time worker at the food-service company Sodexo for 11 years. She cleans the stands at Ohio State University's stadium after football games, works in the kitchen making veggie subs and organizing the condiments during basketball games, and may work between 30 and 70 hours a week, depending on which sport is in season.

No matter how many hours Dailey actually works, she remains part-time on the books, which means she receives $9 per hour and no health benefits. Each year, she applies for a full-time job with the company, but so far, her name hasn't been called. She said it's especially hard to get by during the winter months, when football is out of season and her energy bills double.

"My bills are more during the winter than in the fall, but I make half as much," Dailey told HuffPost. "I'll probably only get about 30 hours this week. I can't even afford to keep a bank account -- I don't have enough money after paying bills."

In addition to paying utilities, rent and groceries, Dailey is currently supporting her 47-year-old live-in boyfriend, who has multiple sclerosis. But without health insurance, she can't even afford her own blood pressure medication.

"I don't go to the doctor," she said. "I've had two heart attacks at work. One time an ambulance took me to the hospital, and one time my friend took me. I still haven't paid the bills -- I can't afford it."

Dailey said she owes more than $100,000 in medical bills accumulated since her heart attacks, but without medical insurance, a full-time salary or at least a higher hourly wage, she will never be able to pull herself out of debt. She said it infuriates her that Sodexo, which made more than $1 billion in profits last year, is paying its executives bonuses while she and her coworkers scrape by.

"Our bosses get bonuses every year for how much they make during football season, but instead of them divvying it out to us -- 'cause if it wasn't for us, football season wouldn't go down like it does -- they get big bonuses for their sales that week," she said. "They don't care what we have to go through every day, or that we can't pay our bills this week."

Sodexo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dailey, her coworkers at Ohio State University and other Sodexo workers throughout the country have been trying to organize at a national level to get the company to improve its employment practices, but so far, the company has not met with them.

Meanwhile, the union battle in Wisconsin has been spreading to other states. Dailey said she joined about 5,000 protesters gathered at the Ohio statehouse on Tuesday to voice their opposition to a state Senate bill that would eliminate collective bargaining for state employees and severely restrict collective bargaining rights for local-government employees like teachers, police and firefighters.

Laurie Couch, a spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union in Ohio, said the union-busting legislation was a "slippery slope" for private-sector workers like Dailey.

"This bill would only take away collective-bargaining rights from public-sector workers, but it's a slippery slope, and the private sector would be next," she said. "If public workers lose their health insurance and their pensions, the bottom would fall out, and many private-sector workers already don't have a lot of those things."

Dailey said she just wants a predictable schedule, a living wage and health benefits, and she doesn't think that's asking too much.

"We just want to be able to pay our bills, buy groceries and not have to worry," she said, "because our bosses don't ever have to worry."