In 2012, Ruth Rose Hennessey, a Reference Librarian at the City of Corvallis, made the discovery that every woman fears. Multiple cancerous masses the size of a soda can ring had formed on her left breast. For Ruth Rose life would change dramatically.
Over the next few months Ruth Rose would go through three separate lumpectomy surgeries to remove the cancer. “It was traumatic. The physical pain and stress were overwhelming. Knowing that I had healthcare I could afford to access was one of the few things that I could count on.” Ruth Rose said. “I had hoped the lumpectomy would be enough but like so many others, it still spread.”
In November of 2014 Ruth Rose, faced another terrible choice. She knew her left breast needed to be amputated, however, she did not have clarity on the health of her right breast. The cost in terms of money, pain, and time away from work due to a double mastectomy would be immense. She needed to know which path to take.
“The scan needed to save my life was a $6,000 breast MRI. Samaritan wanted the money up front. Because my HSA was fully funded I was able to pay for the test. Had my HSA not been funded, I would have went into medical debt or delay the treatment which may have cost me my life.”
It was because of Ruth Rose’s healthcare, bargained for by her union, she was able to get the medical care she needed to save her life. However, the proposed changes to healthcare by the City’s administration would change that dynamic and make healthcare inaccessible for many employees due to the cost.
“I worry about the future librarian who can’t afford to save their life. I worry that without a fully-funded healthcare stipend some of our members will choose to forego treatment or not get the care they need.” Ruth Rose continued, “It’s hard to see the City hire a $350 an hour attorney to put the squeeze on us rather support their most vulnerable employees.”
Local 2975 and management resume bargaining on Oct. 15th. Our union is hopeful for a settlement that is fair to all but is ready to strike to preserve quality healthcare for our members.
“We have to stand up for ourselves and good jobs in this community. The City sets a tone for the rest of the employers. We are not going to let them change the values this community was built on, for our own sake and everyone who calls this home.”