Viacommies, Permalancers, and Healthcare.

I arrived at work feeling horrible. My stomach was a mess as though thousands of jagged knifes were tearing apart my innards. But I had a deadline, and to my own peril I would not let this project go unfinished. Yes, it’s absurd- but I was naive and wanted to prove that I was dedicated to my company.

Well… that, and after working for this company for 10 months, I didn’t have health insurance. I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford a visit to the emergency room.

I told myself it will get better. When my post session editor told me I “looked like death,” I decided to google hospitals that would take uninsured people. In my hazy sickness, I found one I hoped would take me at an affordable rate. I hobbled my way back to the office, turned in my tape, and asked politely if I could leave to go to the hospital. My boss looked at me like I was crazy (yes, I was), and said “Abby! Go! Why are you still here?”

She was right, I was obviously sick. But I had no money; I had no health insurance. I took the subway to the hospital to save money. It was there I stayed hooked up to an IV for 12 hours, and found out I needed surgery.

Fast forward…

Surgery is done, Abby is healthy.
Abby has a bill for $12,000 dollars.

This is my MTV Networks Healthcare Story. I had worked for this company day in and day out for 10 months, and had no health insurance. But I was permalance. I didn’t get heath insurance until 12 months. …If only I didn’t get sick for 2 more months.

I tell this story with the hopes that people will understand the plight of the MTV Networks Freelancers. I worked there for about two and a half years, and (obviously) didn’t have a good healthcare experience. But a couple weeks ago I was shocked to find out that Freelancers heathcare benefits were being reduced drastically, with no dental, no paid holidays, tuition reimbursement gone, commuter deductions deleted, and 401K’s frozen.

Seriously? It could get worse?

So, here’s what happened in case you missed it:
Two small groups of people gathered independently, each with the goal of reversing this decision. One group created this logo:

Very early, the morning of the company holiday party, the group stickered the building with this image. With the hopes of rallying massive numbers of freelancers, they continued to flyer the building for days, giving information about their situation– including the names of all the HR representatives in the building.

The other group organized the rallies. It was here everything came together. With logos, stickers, chants, and information, hundreds of Freelancers made their plea, loud and proud to everyone in Times Square. Check out a video here.

After the protests in front of 1515 Broadway, and getting press within the Manhattan masses, Freelancers accomplished a partial victory. Those currently working at MTV Networks will get their original healthcare plans reinstated. However, every other cutback still stands, and anyone hired in 2008 will not have these adequate benefits. Also, Freelancers who were waiting their 12 months to get insurance, come Jan 2008 will have their clocks reset. They must wait another 180 days to be health insurance eligible.

The Group says they plan to meet on Monday to discuss the next order of action. One member (who asked to remain anonymous) says they’re trying to organize and select representatives from across the company to communicate and respond to the issues at hand. They’ve created a website (yet to be publicly released), and they’ve compiled an email list of over 250 employees who want to be actively involved in their campaign.

Hopefully, these full-time, committed workers can achieve their goals. Hopefully, they will get their 401K’s back. Hopefully, new Freelance employees will be offered acceptable benefits.

Yes, Healthcare is an issue. To those who have been working for 10 months or 10 years, healthcare, and good healthcare at that, is due.

For a great detailed rundown of everything as it happened, go to Gawker.

More info:
Yahoo! News
NY Times

As we get info from our source, we’ll keep you updated…

They may work for one of the most profitable companies, but they’re making things happen.

One Response to “Viacommies, Permalancers, and Healthcare.”

  1. lo says:

    When will this country get on board and realize health care is a right? If it ever does, it will be in no small part due to all those who marched, rallied, and stood up to the greedy corporations of America and made something amazing happen…

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