Thousands Fill Midtown Streets to Protest Spitzer Health Cuts

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A protest against the healthcare cuts in Albany last week.Photo: AP


"Eliot, don't get sick," read one of the many placards held by healthcare workers rallying in midtown this afternoon. Others compared Governor Spitzer to President Bush. Spitzer has proposed significant cuts to the state's cumbersome and expensive medical system, and both the healthcare-workers' union and the hospitals association — "guardians of the status quo," Spitzer has charged — are working to fight his plan. Thousands gathered at 26th Street and Third Avenue today for a protest march to the governor's Manhattan office, near Third and 41st Street.

The crowd roared as a contingent of nurses appeared, and there was also a group of protestors from Beth Israel Hospital, but most of the marchers were low-wage workers organized by 1199 SEIU, the healthcare union. "I'm here to fight for my rights," said Kathleen Davis, a 54-year-old home care worker from Queens. "How much do I make an hour? Not enough, but the union got me above the minimum wage." More demonstrators amassed as the march's 2 p.m. start time approached, and the rumor was that as many as 10,000 might show.

No, Eliot, you probably shouldn't get sick anytime soon. —Mary Reinholz