MIAMI

Protesting Jackson Health System Workers Secure County Commission Hearing On Layoffs (PHOTOS)

03/07/2012 05:18 pm ET | Updated May 07, 2012

Though Jackson Health System's CEO insists the financially strapped provider must eliminate 1,115 jobs in order to "right-size," not everyone is down with the county's 5th largest public employer issuing pink slips.

Hospital workers, union members, and concerned residents rallied at Government Center Tuesday, urging Miami-Dade County commissioners to "Save Jackson," the slogan emblazoned across their purple t-shirts.

"It's not about the nurses!" yelled SEIU union head and registered nurse Martha Baker to a cheering crowd. "It's about the patients that will be left behind to die!"

The protestors successfully petitioned County Commissioners for a public hearing on the layoffs, which were announced last week by Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya. According to the Miami Herald, County Commission Chair Joe Martinez promised to hold the hearing soon -- possibly March 22.

Migoya said the public hospital system -- which has reportedly lost $420 over the last three years -- would save $69 million annually by eliminating the positions and adding 350 new part-time jobs. That, too, was dismissed by protestors.

"Cutting a large number of workers and replacing them with 'part-timers' is another strong-arm tactic to drive our families to desperation," said Viviene Dixon-Shim, president of AFSCME Local 1363, in an emailed statement to HuffPost. "This is all a part of a calculated attack on workers and the devastating effect this will have on our community is just collateral damage to them...If we accept all of what is being asked, many our people would be forced to live below the poverty line."

Members of Occupy Miami and activist group 1Miami also joined the protest, where SEIU 1199 member Maggie Pena argued Migoya's cost-cutting plan was "nothing but an attack against patient care. We stand united against this outrageous attack."

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who found himself in the thick of the throng, seemed unwilling to fully endorse the layoffs.

"I'm not going to second-guess Mr. Migoya and what he's doing at Jackson," Gimenez said. "He's got a very difficult situation trying to bring that hospital back to the black. And so I know that there are a lot of disappointed people and there I'm sure here to express it and we'll listen to it. But I'm not sure what the Commission can actually [do to] undo what Mr. Migoya has done."

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Jackson Layoffs Protest
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