No Illegal Layoffs - Especially During a Pandemic

Ms. Weiler Gerber, President and CEO of AccessMatters

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On January 21, 2021, the AccessMatters Union was dismayed to learn from management that they plan to lay off two of our bargaining unit members by March 31, and a third by June 30. All three impacted members are core direct service workers at AccessMatters: two members of the Community Outreach and Information Services team, and one member of the Community-Based Health Services team. All three do critical, mission-driven work for the organization, working long hours to link people throughout Philadelphia to the healthcare services and information they need. All three deserve to keep their jobs. Please join us in demanding that management refrain from terminating our comrades (and disrupting services for our clients) during a global pandemic!

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To: Ms. Weiler Gerber, President and CEO of AccessMatters
From: [Your Name]

We are current and former AccessMatters staff members, clients, partners, and community members who have benefitted from AccessMatters’ work in Philadelphia and beyond, and we stand in solidarity with the AccessMatters Union. We join the Union in demanding that AccessMatters management cease their plan to lay off three direct service staff members by June 30, 2021.

Direct service is the core of public health, and direct service workers are the heart of the public health workforce. In the middle of a pandemic that has made accessing necessary healthcare more difficult than ever, laying off direct service staff is not only cruel to those staff members and their families -- it also severely limits AccessMatters’ ability to meet the needs of the communities you serve. The impacted staff members hold critical roles: one supporting people living with HIV (an epidemic of its own) in accessing the treatment and prevention care they need, and two providing counseling, patient navigation, and outreach services via the high-volume AccessMatters Hotline. We firmly believe in the AccessMatters vision, that “every person has the healthcare and information they need to thrive.” Simply put: AccessMatters’ clients will not be able to get the healthcare and information they need to thrive if nobody is there to pick up the phone.

Many of us are intimately familiar with the tenuous nature of grant funding, and we are sympathetic to the impact of funding loss on nonprofits across the nation. We are nonetheless certain that AccessMatters has the financial and logistical capacity to retain these three staff members at (or above) their current rates of pay. If AccessMatters cannot prove economic exigency, the decision to lay off staff members is not only unethical -- it is a violation of status quo under the National Labor Relations Act.

Your staff deserve protection, and your clients deserve service. Rather than risk legal action and further public outcry, AccessMatters should immediately formulate a financial plan to retain these three staff members, either in their current positions or in analogous open direct service positions.

In solidarity,