GNY/G44 Contract Win
The Earned Income Tax Credit
Baltimore City Stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Attorney Marilyn Mosby
No Strangers In 1199
Florida members discuss Unionbuilding across the political spectrum. See page 12
A Journal of 1199SEIU January/February 2018
17 3 Editorial Strong Unions Aren’t Red or Blue. 5 The President’s Column Lift Every Voice And Sing.
22 @1199seiu www.1199seiu.org 2
6 Around the Regions Unionbusting at Columbia University; Massachusetts nursing home workers rally for their communities; Hudson Valley nursing home workers fight layoff, and more.
10 Secure Our Care Workers gear up for NY budget fight. 11 Our Delegates Chase Brexton’s Stacey Jackson. 12 Conservative & Union Florida members discuss labor activism across the political spectrum. 16 Our Newest Americans Annual Citizenship Program event celebrates those who were sworn in last year.
17 Women’s March 2018 These pink ears were meant for marching. 18 The Earned Income Tax Credit Program Take advantage of free tax prep because big refunds aren’t just for rich people. 20 New Organizing Roundup 1199SEIU organized nearly 4,500 workers in 2017.
21 NBF Diabetes Peer Mentoring Program Members help members manage their condition. 22 The Last Word Marilyn Mosby, Maryland State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.
1199 Magazine January/February 2018 Vol. 36, No. 1 ISSN 2474-7009 Published by 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East 310 West 43rd St. New York, NY 10036 (212) 582-1890 www.1199seiu.org
Editorial: Every One of Us Has a Voice Strong unions aren’t simply red or blue.
Eugenio Maniero, a plant operations engineer at Kendall Regional Hospital in Miami, FL, is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. But he’s also an active 1199SEIU delegate and staunch trade unionist. “I stay in the union because of my heart,” he says. “If you do something good it comes back to you. If we had no union here things would be worse. At least we have a voice.” For Maniero, working people’s values are not identified by any flag or political ideology; they are identified by how they unify, organize, build and support a better society for everyone. In January, as we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we were reminded of this time and time again. Said Dr. King: “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Looking across the vast kaleidoscope that is 1199, we see workers every day who rise above their individualism for the broader concerns of humanity. Albany Co. NH CNA Tamara Elzubair marched with her two granddaughters in this year’s Albany Women’s March because “we still have so much work to do. We are going to continue the fight against injustice and for a fair future.” Every time an 1199er steps onto a picket line, sits down at a bargaining table, gets sworn in as a delegate or citizen or sits with a legislator on behalf of the larger community, they are rising above their individual needs. And that’s what union members—and in particular, members of 1199SEIU— do. In his column, President Illustration by Luba Lukova
George Gresham secretary treasurer
Maria Castaneda executive vice presidents
Jacqueline Alleyne Norma Amsterdam Yvonne Armstrong Lisa Brown Ruth Heller Maria Kercado Steve Kramer Tyrek Lee Joyce Neil Monica Russo Rona Shapiro Milly Silva Gregory Speller Veronica Turner-Biggs Laurie Vallone Estela Vazquez editor
Patricia Kenney director of photography
art direction & design Maiarelli Studio cover photograph
Jim Tynan contributors
Mindy Berman JJ Johnson Regina Heimbruch Emma MacDonald Erin Mei Amanda Torres-Price Sarah Wilson
Gresham reminds us of the critical juncture we’re at in society. Every one of our values is under assault. And whatever party we vote for, whatever nation we hail from, whatever title we report to work as, most of us have something to lose. Quoting the Black National Anthem, ‘Lift Every Voice And Sing’, writes President Gresham. “I urge you all to continue making your voices heard. We must never give in and never give up.”
Looking across the vast kaleidoscope that is 1199, we see workers every day who rise above their individualism for the broader concerns of humanity.
1199 Magazine is published six times a year—January/ February, March/ April, May/June, July/ August, September/ October, November/ December—for $15.00 per year by 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, 310 W.43 St, New York, NY 10036. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to 1199 Magazine, 310 W.43 St., New York, NY 10036.
1199 Magazine 3
Letters & Social Media
HEALTHCARE WORKERS NEED RELIABLE PUBLIC TRANSPORT spoke recently at City Hall in Manhattan about the difficulties facing healthcare workers as a result of the ongoing problems in New York City’s transit system. A new report from the Center for an Urban Future found that healthcare workers are among the most affected by New York City’s faltering public transportation system. It was good to have public support, but I didn’t need a report to tell me that. I take three buses, a ferry and three trains to get from my home on Staten Island to my client in Brooklyn. There’s hardly a day when I’m not delayed by overcrowded buses, buses that don’t show up or mechanical problems on the train. Talk to any healthcare worker in New York City. They’ll tell you stories of hurrying to get to work to start a shift on time and being late because of stalled trains or no-show buses. People rely on us to take care of them. How are we supposed to do this when we can’t even get to work on time? Never mind the discipline, lost hours and struggles with management because of a transit system that is out of our control. We love caring for our patients, but we need to care for our families too. How are we supposed to do that with two- and three-hour commutes? The working people of our city depend on public transportation. It’s time the state and agencies in charge of transit fix the system so it serves the working people who make New York the great city it is.
Anna Couch-Superville, HHA Staten Island, NY HEALTHCARE CUTS WILL DEVASTATE OUR POOREST COMMUNITIES ears ago, someone very close to me was diagnosed with malignant cancer. An oncologist said not much could be done without health care covered by insurance. With nowhere else to turn, my friend went to Montefiore Medical Center, where as a Medicaid patient he received the treatment he needed, was cured, and was cared for with respect and dignity. His insurance policy was not a factor. Right now, however, health care needs help. President Trump’s administration has proposed slashing nearly $1 billion from basic healthcare programs for poor and working people because he could not repeal the Affordable Care Act. Obviously, this will be devastating to medical centers like Montefiore, which serve our poorest communities. (Montefiore also employs hundreds of Bronx residents – the same community it serves.) I think President Trump simply wants to punish states that didn’t vote for him. This is wrong. No one can ever win in the long term unless there is an outcome with a greater good. Hurting human life is not something to be proud of. I am proud to be part of the Montefiore/1199 community. I ask our legislators to fight cuts to health care, especially those to Medicaid. I ask all members of 1199 to reach out also and join me in protecting their institutions.
Maurice F. DePalo, R.Ph. Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY 4
1199seiu: As we prepare to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life let us also look towards the future with strength and commitment. Dr. King showed us that if we stand together with common purpose, we will prevail, and we can force change. Join us on Monday for a Rally Against Racism, supporting our immigrant sisters and brothers. Let’s show the progress being made to achieve Dr. King’s dream!
Thank you Governor Phil Murphy for hosting an earnest roundtable discussion in Newark today about the urgency of raising NJ’s minimum wage! 1199 healthcare workers like Devika Smith are ready to do what it takes to transform our state and win the #FightFor15! It’s a #NewDayNJ!
1199seiu: 1199 retired and current members from Haiti, Gemina Dominique and Evelyn Pierre at #rallyagainstracism at Times Square on #MLKday
1199seiu: 1199 members are here to fight what could be the largest layoff in the history for Maimonides Medical Center. 117 union workers were informed before Thanksgiving that they would no longer be employed with the hospital by December 15. Patient care is sure to suffer with this downsizing, given the wide scope of job categories affected.
#1199seiu & @32BJSEIU members traveled to D.C. today to lobby Congress for increased funding for the USVI & PR, because the people there are Americans, too. Stand with us as we continue to call on Congress to #Stand4USVI & #Stand4PR!
1199seiu: Healthcare workers travelled to DC to join thousands of others demanding Justice for Immigrants #SaveTPS #DreamAct
Lift Every Voice and Sing Silence is acquiescence.
The President’s Column by George Gresham
Generations of schoolchildren throughout our country have been taught to believe in a number of shared ideals and values: • we are all created equal and should enjoy equal opportunity whatever our color, religion, gender or national origin; • we are a nation of immigrants, and the diversity of our multiracial, multinational, multicultural people is one of our greatest strengths; • as a free people in a democracy, we should all have equal rights, including to the ballot box; • democracy means a government of, by and for the people; • with hard work and “playing by the rules” we can all get ahead and provide a better life for our families. Today, of course, each one of these ideals is under assault—not from abroad but from the White House and the leaders of Congress. Fortunately, millions of Americans are speaking up and acting to resist the assault. If we have learned anything in our lives—and certainly in the past year—it is that, as the old spiritual says: freedom is a constant struggle. What has been achieved over generations can be erased with one session of Congress. What we win today, we can lose tomorrow—if we don’t continue to speak up and join with our friends and allies to defend our gains. That some misbegotten souls, including those at the highest level of power, still seem to regret the outcome 153 years ago of the U.S. Civil War. This tells us that to remain silent is to not only undermine our ideals but to put them at great risk. We 1199ers are reminded of this every time our contracts are about to expire. We can lose so much of what we’ve achieved if our members are not informed and mobilized. Fortunately, most of our sisters and brothers are ready to defend our jobs, our families and our union. But these same dynamics hold true in our communities and our country. So many of our rights are threatened by the White House and Congress. Our civil rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, LBGTQ rights, immigrant rights, collective bargaining and labor rights—all have been
under sustained attack since the November 2016 election. We need to always keep in mind that every one of those rights was won in struggle—by folks making their voices heard, organizing, mobilizing and demanding—often at a great price, including sacrificing their lives. Nothing is ever given to us. “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will,” Frederick Douglass wrote in the 19th century. “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.” We in 1199 know this from our own experience. The $15 an hour minimum wage is just one recent example. It was unheard of until tens of thousands of homecare workers, fast-food workers and others went into the streets to demand it. And now we’ve won it—not entirely and not yet everywhere—but what was considered unrealistic just a few years ago is now widely understood to be not just reasonable but obtainable. This victory can be multiplied by thousands. Freedom of speech, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, paid vacations and sick leave, union contracts, the right to vote, freedom from sexual harassment, and on and on and on. In these days of struggle, I am constantly reminded of the Black National Anthem, James Weldon Johnson’s poem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”:
“We need to always keep in mind that every one of those rights was won in struggle— by folks making their voices heard, organizing, mobilizing and demanding— often at a great price, including giving their lives. Nothing is ever given to us.”
Lift every voice and sing Till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; Let our rejoicing rise High as the listening skies, Let it resound loud as the rolling sea… Facing the rising sun of our new day begun Let us march on till victory is won. I urge all of you to continue making your voices heard. We must never give in and never give up. Nobody said making a better life for ourselves and our families and our communities is easy. But it can never happen unless we make it happen. 1199 Magazine 5
Around the Regions NEW YORK
Columbia University Majors in Union Busting
Health clinic workers at Columbia University in New York City who voted more than a year ago to join 1199SEIU are in a protracted first contract struggle with the wealthy institution. The eight medical assistants and laboratory workers who staff Columbia’s student health centers have been at the table with the university since last December, when they unanimously voted for union representation. Afterward, Columbia insisted the health center workers negotiate their own collective bargaining agreement rather than recognize the group under the university’s
existing contract with 1199. In talks with clinic workers, Columbia — which has an endowment of more than $10 billion and charges an annual tuition of over $50,000 per year — is consistently refusing to meaningfully bargain on issues including healthcare coverage, a contractual sexual harassment policy and the formation of a safety and health committee. Workers characterize those things and basic job security as the driving forces behind the organizing drive. “Things were really changing. We felt our jobs were always in jeopardy. If we didn’t organize when we did a
lot of us could be out of our jobs,” says Marcia Sutherland, a medical assistant at Columbia for 16 years. Workers also noted that Columbia has continued to harden its line with labor and push back against organizing and union rights at the college. “The strategy is that they want to get concessions out of us to use in negotiations with other unions at the college,” Sutherland added. To send the message that Columbia’s tactics don’t fly with workers, 1199ers joined hundreds of graduate student teaching assistants at a Feb. 1 rally. The teaching assistants organized with the United Auto Workers more than a year ago. Since then, the school has used a host of legal maneuvers to avoid bargaining with them, and most recently publicly announced its refusal to recognize the election or the teachers’ status as workers. 1199 Delegate Eduardo Gil, a law library assistant at the school, says Columbia is definitely sharpening its anti-union claws. “I was in some negotiations last week,” he noted. “And they were the most acrimonious I have seen here in all my years.” Health center workers say they’re not intimidated. At press time they were scheduling a walk in on the boss and several other solidarity actions. “We are brothers and sisters, and we are going to stick to our guns,” said Medical Assistant Yonette Bourglas. “Cohesion is very important if we are going to accomplish anything. We are the one most invested in making sure the bosses here are respecting the law and workers. We are going to stay in this fight until the bitter end.”
Student health center workers at Columbia University have been battling for a contract for more than a year.
“The strategy is that they want to get concessions out of us to use in negotiations with other unions at the college.” Marcia Sutherland, Medical Assistant
Sapphire at Goshen Workers To Management: Patients Before Profits! Biting winter cold was no match for the fired-up nurses and other caregivers who protested on Jan. 8 the planned layoff of ten RNs from Sapphire Goshen Nursing and Rehab in Orange County, NY. Management delivered layoff notices to 10 of 12 Sapphire RNs in early December. The home, formerly known as Elant 6
at Goshen, was purchased in July 2015 by its current owners. The sale, bosses insisted, would bring “no significant staffing change” to the institution. The layoffs will cut the institution’s nursing staff by 54%, leaving the duties of 37 nurses to just two RNs and 15 LPNs. Workers say the vicious cuts are a threat to patient care at the institution. The
nurses were joined by a host of community supporters, family members of residents and elected officials. The coalition is demanding that Sapphire work on finding solutions to economic concerns that don’t involve layoffs, pointing out that elderly and vulnerable residents depend on dedicated caregivers at the 120-bed facility. Carolina Kroon Photo
Sapphire at Goshen workers braved icy gusts at a January 8 picket against layoffs at the home.
Florida Maryland Massachusetts New Jersey New York Washington, D.C.
Massachusetts Workers Rally Against Nursing Home Closures
Carolina Kroon Photo Rose Lincoln Photo
Members of 1199SEIU, their community supporters and elected officials rallied Jan. 17 at two nursing homes set for closure by their owner, the Kentucky-based Kindred Corporation. The demonstrations highlighted the negative impact nursing home closures will have on local communities. Transitional Care & Rehabilitation-Avery in Needham and Transitional Care & Rehabilitation-Tower Hill in Canton are to be shuttered over the coming months. Dozens of healthcare workers face layoffs and communities face new burdens thrust upon seniors and their families. The closures also raise a raft of new questions about the state of Massachusetts’ nursing home industry. Workers maintain that every closure triggers a local community crisis. At two recent Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) meetings, 1199ers testified about maintaining quality care at the homes during the transition, the relocation of residents, and much-needed support for caregivers currently employed at these facilities. Since 2000, more than 200 Massachusetts skilled nursing facilities have closed—over a third of the state’s facilities. The pace of facility sales has also accelerated in recent years, including dozens of homes formerly owned and operated by the now-defunct Golden Living and Kindred national chains. Massachusetts healthcare workers are advocating for the passage of legislation that will help to stabilize the nursing home industry and are urging DPH to create an updated regulatory structure that more adequately addresses complex issues around licensing, ownership and operations. Workers also support the creation of a strong stakeholder group that can develop a plan and policy recommendations to improve licensing, closure processes and excess nursing home bed inventory.
Since 2000, more than 200 Massachusetts skilled nursing facilities have closed—over a third of the state’s facilities.
Workers at two Massachusetts nursing homes owned by Kentucky-based Kindred Corp. rallied Jan. 17 to highlight the negative impact closure would have on local communities.
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Around the Regions
Members Welcome New Day in New Jersey New Jersey 1199ers welcome 2018 with renewed confidence. Members say they are ready to work with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on his progressive agenda that includes many of the Union’s central demands. The Union was an early Murphy endorser and staunch campaigner. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, whose tenure was marked by increasing hostility to workers, left office with one of the lowest approval ratings for an elected official in the nation. Gov. Murphy highlighted his commitment to a pro-worker progressive agenda on his first day in office when he held a roundtable meeting that included testimony from low-wage workers. Among the speakers was Devika Smith, a CNA at Castle Hill and a leader in 1199’s campaigns for a $15 minimum and safe staffing levels. “As a single parent, and a new grandmother, it’s a daily struggle to make ends meet,” Smith said. “I want to
build a better life for my family, which is why I joined the Fight for $15.” Two days earlier, on Martin Luther King Day, Darlene Brown, a CNA at Delaire NH in Linden, took time from a picket line during a one-day strike to address a King Day rally in Linden. She stressed that she and her co-workers drew courage from Dr. King’s life and are prepared to do what it takes to protect important benefits like affordable health care. Another member activist, Ella Moton, a CNA at Harborview NH in Jersey City, recently testified at the state legislature about the need for safe staffing legislation.
Members were heartened by Gov. Murphy’s inaugurations speech in which he underscored his commitment to issues such as environmental justice, affordable health care, voting, immigrant and LGBTQ rights, earned sick leave and equal pay for women. He urged the legislature to pass a $15 minimum bill, which he vowed to sign when it reached his desk. “Governor Murphy, our members are excited about what can be delivered during your administration” said Devika Smith at the Jan. 16 meeting. “We are ready to get to work and do what we need to do to make New Jersey a better place to live and work.”
NJ Gov. Phil Murphy at a Jan. 16 meeting with 1199 members.
“We are ready to get to work and do what we need to do to make New Jersey a better place to live and work.” Devika Smith, CNA at Castle Hill
Victory! Group of 44 and Greater NY Workers Settle Contract After months of thorny talks, New York and New Jersey workers employed at nursing homes represented by The Group of 44 and Greater NY Healthcare Facilities Association settled a new collective bargaining agreement. Completed at Jan. 30 negotiations, the new pact provides workers with the 3.5 percent raise they’d been fighting for since last August and preserved their benefits. These victories followed months of exhaustive negotiation and resistance from management. Look for more information in the next issue of 1199 Magazine. 8
1199ers at Jan. 30 settlement of GNY/ G44 contract.
Report: Healthcare Workers Most Affected by NYC Transportation Woes
1199SEIU members joined healthcare leaders, elected officials and public transportation advocates for a Jan. 31 press conference at New York City’s City Hall in lower Manhattan to announce a new report from the Center for an Urban Future that reveals New York City’s healthcare workers face the worst commutes of workers in any industry. The study attributes the disparity to service gaps in New York City’s public transportation system, which disproportionately affect outlying areas of boroughs outside Manhattan. The report found that public transportation-dependent workers have the longest median commute times—51.2 minutes—and that commute times increased almost eight minutes between 1990 and 2015. Healthcare workers bore the brunt of these changes, with more caregivers taking the
bus to work every day than all other city industries combined. Homecare workers Maria Arrieta and Anna Couch-Superville joined Secretary Treasurer Maria Castaneda in representing 1199SEIU. “I wake up at 5:30. I have to be to my client at 8.00 a.m. I take two trains and a bus,” said Arrieta, who describes her lengthly daily commute across Brooklyn. “I’m punctual because I wake up very early and I leave my house early, but not everyone can do that. I hear about the difficulties my co-workers have all the time.” The new report made a number of recommendations to improve mass transit, including investments in transit outside of Manhattan, congestion pricing with a portion of revenue used to improve transit outside Manhattan and a bus rescue plan to improve reliability of bus service. Homecare workers Maria Arrieta (top) and Anna CouchSuperville are among the thousands of healthcare workers affected by challenges of NYC public transportation.
1199 Magazine 9
SECURE OUR CARE
postcards urging them to resist Washington’s draconian cuts and increase state support for health care by enacting a tax on insurance companies’ windfalls profits.
Massive budget cuts from Washington threaten New York’s healthcare.
Washington is threatening massive healthcare cuts. President Trump’s disastrous new budget calls for some $700 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs while increasing military spending and funding President Trump’s promised border wall. With millions of residents dependent on Medicare and Medicaid and care from safety net institutions, New York State sits squarely beneath the budget axe. Congressional leaders, still smarting from their failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), have already cut $975 million from New York State’s health insurance plan for moderate income families and $700 million from New York hospitals. The callous moves put at risk not just recipients of Medicare and Medicaid, but also funding for safety net and financially distressed hospitals, and minimum wage increases for home care providers. All of this is happening against a backdrop of continued attempts to
repeal the ACA and record windfall profits for insurance companies under the new tax law. More than 3.5 million New York City residents access Medicaid for their healthcare. Deana Jones, a 1199 delegate and service coordinator at Brooklyn’s Interfaith Hospital, is outraged by the current threat facing the more than one million Brooklynites who depend on the program. “We help to take care of the people who really need it,” she said at a recent borough-wide budget meeting. “We look after homeless people inside our chapel when the weather is bad. If you take away more money from us, these people will be back on the street.” 1199ers from across the state are pushing back. Members from every region of New York headed to Albany for a Feb. 12 budget hearing and a Feb. 17 Caucus Day, where they delivered to legislators signed
“This will greatly impact all of us at my hospital. We will not have enough staff or be able to provide the high level of care that our patients need.” Angela Moorecummings, RN, Mount Sinai Beth Israel
1199ers will rally in Albany March 14 against vicious cuts to New York State’s healthcare budget. 10
Linda Via, a phlebotomist at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Suffern, NY, said healthcare cuts have dangerous implications for workers and patients. “I have seen what happens when we have cutbacks,” she said at a Feb. 8 Joint Delegate Assembly in Manhattan. “They cut back on overtime. We work short staffed. It’s unsafe and its crazy. We’ve had phlebotomists who have gotten needlesticks because management didn’t want to call anyone in to cover. How much do we have to put at risk? How much can we do?” At press time, members were being urged to sign up for a massive March 14 rally in Albany. The action is intended to press legislators to push back against Washington’s punishing attitude toward the needy and underserved and enact the tax on insurers who profit from the transfer of publicly-supported companies. RN Angela Moorecummings, a delegate at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in downtown Manhattan, is anxious about the cuts for her hospital and her patients. Moorecummings works with an extremely vulnerable population: those served by Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s methadone clinic. “This will greatly impact all of us at my hospital. We will not have enough staff or be able to provide the high level of care that our patients need,” she said. “It’s impossible to give your 100% when working under those conditions. And our patients need us to be there 100%.” For more information about the rally or to sign up log on to www.1199SEIU.org or contact your delegate or organizer.
Our Delegates Lead Therapist Stacey Jackson was instrumental in organizing Baltimore’s premier LGBTQ health provider. Like many of her colleagues at Maryland’s Chase Brexton Health Care, 1199SEIU delegate Stacey Jackson is deeply committed to providing quality services to LGBTQ community and those affected by HIV/AIDS. Her dedication is professional and intensely personal. After undertaking a role as one of the leading activists in the August 2016 organizing drive at the Baltimore-based health system, where employees voted overwhelmingly for the Union, Jackson became a contract negotiating committee member and then a delegate. Jackson is a relative newcomer in the behavioral health field, having completed her Masters of Social Work at the prestigious Smith College in Massachusetts in 2013. Before that she was a healthcare policy advisor to the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy. Afterwards, Jackson worked as a Program Administrator for Health Policy Research and Advocacy at American University Law School, also in DC. It was at law school she began her transition from male to female. “There have been challenges to negotiating my career as a trans person,” says Jackson. “While the law school was one of the first in the country to provide trans-inclusive healthcare benefits that pay for transition medicine and care, I faced other forms of discrimination. “When I applied for the promotion to Assistant Director of Special Events, a more public role that involved interacting with big donors, I was the unanimous choice of the hiring committee. But then, after I handed in my resignation from my old role, I got an email rescinding the job offer. A year earlier, when I started living as my authentic self, I was moved to a less public-facing role. I’d hit a glass ceiling.” Jackson decided it was time to change her career path. After completing her MSW, she began her career as a Therapist at Chase Brexton in October of 2013, and in February 2016 was promoted to Lead Therapist for LGBT Behavioral Health. But shortly before she joined the team, Jackson says the health center, which was founded in 1978 to serve gay men, was facing some “pretty dramatic shifts in management style.” Chase Brexton is one of several Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) whose staffs have recently come together to form a union with 1199SEIU. Like Whitman Walker in Washington, D.C. and Callen Lorde in New York City, these facilities proudly serve the LGBT
STACEY JACKSON community and other underserved client populations. Chase Brexton’s organizing odyssey began when a new CEO took over, seeking to increase the institution’s revenue by bringing expensive management consultants, who recommended a series of unpopular changes to the working environment. “They were proposing to change the compensation structure from salary to incentive-based,” explains Jackson. “This meant that many of the providers were facing salary cuts of $30,000 on average unless they agreed to dramatically increase their patient throughput.” “Chase Brexton’s headquarters, where I work, is in the Mount Vernon section of Baltimore, which is an area surrounded by deep poverty and segregation. Some of our clients need to take three buses just to reach us. “The incentive-based system threatened to turn clients into numbers. It encouraged us to ‘turn over’ patients and rush them out the door rather than provide the quality care they deserve.” Sometimes she faced pressure to add more group therapy sessions because they generate more revenue than individual sessions. “But not all clients benefit from this approach. Some need individual attention,” explains Jackson. Management fought back aggressively against the union campaign, trying to divide the worker activists by “pouring vitriol,” says Jackson. But the activists kept close contact and built solidarity with digital communications. Local LGBT activists and community leaders also enthusiastically supported the union campaign. In the end the new CEO resigned, and the Chase Brexton activists voted by 87-9 for 1199SEIU representation. “Our union campaign was very values-based,” explains Jackson. “We weren’t necessarily looking for major wage increases. We were more concerned with limiting the amount of patient throughput, so that we could continue to provide quality care to the underserved communities who depend on us.”
Chase Brexton Health Care, Maryland
“Management fought back aggressively against the Union campaign, trying to divide the worker activists by ‘pouring vitriol’”
1199 Magazine 11
Party lines don’t stop these members from building a strong union.
Our Conservative Union Activists In 1199SEIU, there are likely as many political opinions as there are members. While 1199SEIU’s history reflects a progressive union, the organization’s true unifying thread is not allegiance to a political party but members’ commitment to quality health care, fair wages and just working conditions.
Bill Hamilton is a stationary engineer and boiler 0perator at Oak Hill Hospital in Hernando County, just north of Tampa. He’s been an active 1199 delegate for five years. “I consider myself a staunch Republican,” he says, “But I voted across party lines [in the last election].” As part of his Union-building work, Hamilton is participating in the Conservative Member Engagement Program, an initiative designed to ensure that members’ views of all political stripes are heard and considered. Since the 2016 Presidential election, there’s been a lot of talk about repairing the divided country and giving voice to the struggles of working people. In Florida, members of all political persuasions are working together in setting an example of how to do this. Florida is what’s ruefully known as a right-to-work (for less) state. Union security agreements are illegal. All workers in an institution are equally covered by a union contract, but only those people who choose to join the union pay dues, explains Eugenio Maniero, a Plant Operations Engineer at Kendall Regional Hospital in Miami. All the costs of administering the contract—legal advice and delegates time—are borne by dues-paying members, yet everyone benefits. Though Maniero considers himself a die-hard Republican, he doesn’t necessarily agree with his party’s policies. He’s firmly opposed to right to work laws, which are being promoted by Republican legislators across the U.S. and believes unfettered union membership is simply the right and just thing to do for working people. “I stay in the union because of my heart. If you do something good, it comes back to you. If we had no union here, things would be worse. At least we have a voice,” adds Maniero. “I Want to Vote for Someone Who is for the Working Man” Many conservatives say they’re reacting to elitism and political disconnection from common people. James
Streitenberger, a CNA in Behavioral Health at Trinity, grew up in a Republican family. Though not particularly interested in politics before joining 1199, Streitenberger took part in Vote Fest in New Port Richey last year, an event designed to encourage voter registration and participation. “It was interesting to sit down with candidates in small groups and hear what they stood for,” said Streitenberger. “I want to vote for someone who is for the working man who is living paycheck to paycheck—not someone who represents the bosses living in comfort. I don’t want someone looking down on me.” Walk A Day In Our Shoes Republicans dominate the Florida Statehouse, so it is also important to ensure that these elected representatives are made aware of community concerns. In the aftermath of last October’s Hurricane Irma, 1199 invited Gary Farmer, the Democratic state senator for Hollywood, and Anitere Flores, the Republican State Senator for South
THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT REPAIRING THE DIVIDED COUNTRY AND GIVING VOICE TO THE STRUGGLES OF WORKING PEOPLE. IN FLORIDA, MEMBERS OF ALL POLITICAL PERSUASIONS ARE WORKING TOGETHER IN SETTING AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO DO THIS.
1199ers at Florida’s Behavioral Health at Trinity, from left: CNA James Streitenberger, Will Dale and Paul Griffiths.
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Kendall Regional’s Eugenio Maniero (left) is a participant in Florida’s Conservative Member Engagement Initiative, with RN Marilyn Ralat.
“ I STAY IN THE UNION BECAUSE OF MY HEART. IF YOU DO SOMETHING GOOD, IT COMES BACK TO YOU. IF WE HAD NO UNION HERE, THINGS WOULD BE WORSE. ” Eugenio Maniero Plant Operations Engineer at Kendall Regional Hospital in Miami
Miami-Dade County to Jackson Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Miami. The legislators took part in a “Walk A Day In Our Shoes” event with CNAs at the facility. Like many nursing homes in the area, Jackson Plaza was still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Irma, which left many homes and businesses without power for weeks. 1199 members shared with both legislators their concerns about their facilities and patients and the need for clear guidelines in the event of a future hurricane. On the other side of Florida, Brook Julius, a food and nutrition assistant at Oak Hill Hospital, explained that he joined the union because he was worried that the hospital would contract out the kitchen where he worked. “I wanted a union contract to protect my job,” he said. His support for Union representation doesn’t mean he agrees with union initiatives across the board. Julius calls a mandatory minimum wage needless, contending that such regulations result in excessive oversight, job losses and price hikes. Julius’ colleague Bill Hamilton voted for Donald
“ JUST BECAUSE YOU MAY BE REPUBLICAN, IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN THE UNION. WE ARE ALL PURPLE, EVEN IF OUR VIEWS MIGHT BE CONSERVATIVE.”
Jennifer Wynter Philis Photo
Ivianne Cartamil Unit Secretary at Kendall Regional Hospital
Trump, and said he would do so again in 2020, but doesn’t agree with all Republican policies either. He thinks the Affordable Care Act should be replaced with a single-payer system, which will better protect working people. After living with his family in Germany, Hamilton saw first-hand how well the system works. “My [now] ex-wife had a burst appendix when we were living there, and there was no waiting to get an operation to fix it,” he remembers, noting the necessity of life experience and exposure to other views as necessary in forming cogent opinions. “We Are All Purple” Ivianne Cartamil, a unit secretary at Kendall Regional Hospital since 2000, has been an 1199 member for a decade. She’s from a deeply conservative Cuban family, but has been an activist since Kendall Regional’s first contract was signed. “Before the union came in, there wasn’t a good atmosphere at the work site. Management was doing
whatever they wanted—firing whoever they wanted. We realized that the union would mean more protection for workers,” said Cartamil. “I like to give people a chance,” she added, explaining why she voted for Presidents Obama and then Trump. But she won’t be voting for President Trump again because of his policies toward immigrant communities and vulgar comments about people from Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African countries. Though she’s no longer supportive of the Trump administration, Cartamil says the Conservative Members Engagement Program is an opportunity to build Union strength through political diversity. “We want to give our members confidence that we will back them no matter which party they support. Members have the right to speak about their opinions, nobody will treat you differently,” she says with enthusiasm. “Just because you may be Republican, it doesn’t mean you don’t believe in the union. We are all purple, even if our views might be conservative.”
Kendall Regional’s Ivianne Cartamil grew up in a conservative family. Today Cartamil is a political activist who votes her conscience, she says.
1199 Magazine 15
New U.S. citizen Lisa Kapildeo, a home health aide with Bronx Jewish community Council, at this year’s 16th annual Citizenship celebration.
Celebrating Our New Citizens “The one thing that truly makes America exceptional is the diversity and variety of experience of its citizens.”
Every year, 1199SEIU honors hundreds of members who become new American citizens with help from the 1199SEIU Citizenship Program. This year’s 16th Annual Celebration of New Citizens at the union headquarters took on a special resonance, with the event taking place just one day after President Trump’s offensive comments about Haitian and African immigrants. Sandy Vito, the Executive Director of the 1199 Training and Employment Funds, welcomed celebrants and invited guests. In her remarks Vito stressed inclusion and diversity as American values. “We hear a lot about American exceptionalism. I believe that the one thing that truly makes America exceptional is the diversity and variety of experience of its citizens,” she said. The event’s keynote speaker was Open Society Foundations President Patrick Gaspard, 1199SEIU’s former 16
Since its inception in 2001, 1199SEIU’s Citizenship Program has helped 11,500 members on the path to U.S. citizenship.
political director who served as White House Political Director and Ambassador to South Africa under President Barack Obama. Gaspard, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Haitian parents, immigrated as a child with his family to the U.S. “At the age of 18, I became a citizen of the glorious country of Haiti,” said Gaspard. “Then in the year 2008, with the help of 1199, I became a US citizen.” He encouraged this year’s 568 new U.S. citizens to view their American citizenship as not just a right, but a responsibility. With voting, said Gaspard, comes power— a power new citizens must exercise to bring political change. Anne Done, a new citizen and 1199 member who works as a Home Health Aide for Sunnyside Citywide Home Care Services, shared her story with the audience. Originally from
the Dominican Republic, Done has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and used to work as a therapist in her native country. As an HHA she used her professional training to draw her patients out. “I took care of an 80-year-old veteran from Puerto Rico who had cancer,” she said. “Sometimes, he felt depressed so I encouraged him to tell me stories about his life. When I was worried about money, he told me his situation during the Great Depression. This gave me hope. “Now, I take care of an Italian woman. She is a hundred years old but she is so active! She inspires me to live life to the fullest. All of my clients taught me to live without regrets.” Marcia Williamson, an 1199 member from Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital, was born in Jamaica and looks after her younger brother, Bobby, who has Down Syndrome. “In Jamaica, we have no family, and there are no benefits and good health care for him. I knew that as an American citizen, Bobby would be safer, more secure, and have better options for his needs,” she said. Williamson was granted citizenship in 1993. Her brother was denied because he couldn’t answer the civics questions, but a with recent government grant, the program is now able to admit a small number of non-members like Bobby Williamson. Since its inception in 2001, 1199SEIU’s Citizenship Program has helped 11,500 members on the path to U.S. citizenship. Eligible members can take English and U.S. Civics classes and receive legal advice and assistance with preparation of their citizenship application. Call (646) 473-8915 to register or obtain additional information and program requirements.
1. New York City 2. New Jersey 3. Albany, NY 4. Maryland 5. Seneca Falls, NY
Women’s March 2018 Millions take to the streets to protest oppression of women and immigrants and assaults on civil rights.
Some 200 demonstrations around the world on January 21 drew more than one million participants who commemorated the one-year anniversary of the historic Women’s March on Washington. Last year, hundreds of millions of participants marched and rallied in actions around the world, in solidarity with a march and rally in the U.S capital that drew hundreds of thousands of women and their allies. Again, this year, demonstrators called for equal rights, a fair justice system, an end to the systemic oppression of people of color, fair treatment of LGBTQ persons, environmental and reproductive justice and more. And again this year, the events were very public referenda on the Trump Administration and its antagonistic attitudes toward women, immigrants, labor, public education, the environmental movement and global solidarity. 1199SEIU members turned out at demonstrations in New York City, New Jersey, Upstate New York, Baltimore and Miami. Many 1199ers were among the 200,000 NYC demonstrators who turned Central Park West and Sixth Avenue into rainbows of the resistance: signs, banners and placards of every hue fluttered above a sea of signature pink-eared hats. Tamara Hill Elzubair, a CNA at Albany County Nursing Home, brought her twin granddaughters to the Albany, NY march last year and this year. “Last year, we knew we had a president who didn’t care about working people, and we marched in Albany and along with the rest of the world to resist,” says Elzubair. “We’ve done a good job of continuing that resistance. We helped save the Affordable Care Act and we are speaking up for the DREAMERS. This year I marched again with my granddaughters because we still have so much work to do. We are going to continue this fight against injustice and for a fair future.”
1199 Magazine 17
Make sure your tax refund is all it can be!
The Earned Income Tax Credit 1199SEIU and the 1199SEIU Benefit Fund are again making available a free tax prep program to help ensure that working people pay only the taxes they owe and apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC, a tax credit for low-and moderate-income families, was originally enacted in 1975 as the EIC. Over the years, with tax reform and legislation, the program has expanded. A recent study from the University of California at Irvine supports the EITC as one of the most effective anti-poverty 18
programs ever enacted. Researchers noted the particular benefit of the credit to women; one in eight U.S. women live in poverty. Since its inception in 1999, the 1199SEIU/NBF EITC Program has helped Union members garner hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds. New York City members alone have received combined refunds totaling more than $100 million. The program works with tax preparation professionals at sites throughout the Union’s regions. Help with tax prep and filing is free of charge.
What You Need to Bring to File for the EITC: • Your spouse. If you are filing a joint return, your spouse must be present. • Government-issued photo identification. • All applicable forms from 2017, including W-2, 1099, 1098-T, 1095-A, 1095B/B1098 and 1098-E. • Tax Employer Identification Number and the Social Security Number of your child care provider if you are claiming child care expenses. • Voided check with routing number if you will be requesting direct deposit of your refund. • Amounts of any other income, such as jury fees or gambling income. • A copy of last year’s tax returns.
Florida Call the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site locator at (800) 906-9887 or use the VITA site locator tool at www. irs.gov/individuals/find-a-location-for-free-tax-prep. Maryland Baltimore 611 North Eutaw St. Tuesday, January 30 – Saturday, April 14. Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Fridays & Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sunday: Closed Monday: Closed Call the following telephone number for an appointment: Union Members Direct Dial (443) 332-1199 The Earned Income Tax Credit has helped 1199SEIU families file for more than $100 million in tax refunds.
Massachusetts Monday, January 29 – Monday, April 16 Call (877) 409-1199 for an appointment. Quincy 108 Myrtle St. 4th fl. Mondays, Tuesdays & Fridays: 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Springfield 20 Maple St. Springfield, MA Tuesdays: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Thursdays: 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Saturdays: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. New York Buffalo 2421 Main St., Suite 100 Call for an appointment: (716) 982-0540, ext. 3721 or ext. 3722 February 1 – April 17. Mondays: 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Tuesdays: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Wednesdays: 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Thursdays: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Fridays: Closed Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Off-sites only for the month of February) North Country 95 East Main Street, Gouverneur
Call (315) 287-9013 ext. 11 for an appointment. Monday, January 29 – Monday, April 9. Monday: 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Thursdays: 4:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Rochester 259 Monroe Ave., Suite 220, 2nd floor Call (585) 730-6433 for an appointment. Saturday, January 27 to Tuesday, April 17. Strong Memorial Hospital - 601 Elmwood Ave. Union Office - 259 Monroe Ave., Suite 220 Saturday, January 27 to Sunday, January 28: Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Union office) Monday, January 29 to Sunday, February 11: Tuesdays: 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Strong Memorial Hospital) Thursday: 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Union office) Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Union office) Monday, February 12 to Sunday, March 25: Tuesdays: 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Strong Memorial Hospital until 2/27/2018) Thursday: 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Union office) Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Union office) Monday, March 26 to Monday, April 16: Tuesdays 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Union office) Thursday: 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Union office) Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Union office) Syracuse 1199 SEIU UHE, 250 South Clinton St., Suite 200 Call (315) 424-1743, ext.111 for an appointment. Monday, January 29 to Monday, April 16. Mondays to Thursdays: 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Downstate New York and New Jersey Members in downstate New Jersey and Downstate New York (including New York City, Westchester County and Long Island) can log on to www.1199seiubenefits.org for more information about free tax preparation sites, locations, hours of operation and other resources. For the first time, Benefit Fund’s Tax Preparation Assistance Program includes two quick and easy options for filing taxes from home. To access the programs from the Fund’s website, visit www.1199SEIU Benefits.org/eitc. Click on the links for Food Bank Self Prep or NYC MyFree Taxes, depending on the option you want. Expert help from the Food Bank For New York City is available via telephone Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Call (646) 981-6111 1199 Magazine 19
Workers from Partners Health Care’s Cooley Dickinson Hospital after their August 2017 organizing victory.
Our 1199 Family Continues to Grow 2017 was a banner organizing year. New organizing continues to be the cornerstone of 1199SEIU’s growth. In 2017, the Union added almost 4,500 new members to the 1199 family, confirming the willingness of workers to struggle to improve their lives even under adverse conditions. Workers’ resolve and 1199’s political power and organizing expertise proved a winning combination in a Trump era of division and hostility to labor. New members from hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and ambulatory (outpatient) care units rejected that agenda. The Union got off to a strong start in January when more than 500 workers from Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, Long Island, overcame a fierce antiunion campaign to vote 1199. New members included PCAs, behavioral health administrators, registrars, unit secretaries, food service and environmental services workers, and other support staff. “Finally, we can stand together and support one another,” said Regina Heaney, Mercy admitting clerk, after the victory. “We now have a say in our conditions, which we never had. We have hope for the future and that is something they 20
cannot take away from us.” Also on Long Island, some 100 workers from three Hudson River Healthcare (HRH) community health centers voted to join the Union in November. The 1199SEIU celebrated training program influenced Denise Diaz’s vote. Said Diaz, a clinical assistant, “I’m very, very happy to be a part of 1199 so I can enjoy the security that comes with better benefits and continue on my path to become an RN.” Among the most significant 2017 victories was the Massachusetts division’s organizing of some 1,000 workers—nurses, professional, technical and service—at Partners Health Care, the state’s largest healthcare system. The Union leadership laid the ground for the victories by forming a strategic alliance with Partners to allow free and fair elections at the system’s facilities. Partners’ willingness to agree to the alliance reflects the power and prestige of 1199 in the state. “A major reason I voted for the Union was because secretaries like me were unappreciated,” said Victoire Solomon, a secretary in Partners’ Brigham and Women’s Faulkner
“… Joining 1199SEIU is important to help technical employees like me respond to changes in the healthcare industry and advocate to protect our professional standards.” Cooley Dickinson Hospital CV Interventional Tech, Suzanne Sauer
Hospital in Boston. In addition to better compensation and clearly defined responsibilities, Solomon stressed that being a Union member finally gave her a voice. Other new members cited the importance of the Union in maintaining high standards. “I believe that joining 1199SEIU is important to help technical employees like me respond to changes in the healthcare industry and advocate to protect our professional standards,” said Suzanne Sauer, a veteran CV Interventional Tech at Partners’ Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. In addition to organizing new institutions, the Union continued its success in adding residual workers to the 1199 family. In October, some 85 CNAs at Samaritan Summit Village NH in Watertown, NY, voted to join 1199 LPNs and other service workers as members in the Union. “Working together as 1199SEIU members will make it much easier for all of us to win better wages, benefits and job security,” Stacey Diehl, a member of the Samaritan Summit Village Organizing Committee said. “We can now make our voices heard on the job and negotiate fair rules for staffing and mandation.” Although the major 2017 victories were in Massachusetts and New York, the 1199 organizing express made stops in virtually all the Union’s regions. In October, the Union welcomed 51 service workers from Green House NH in Baltimore. Veteran CNAs Shantelle Zeigler and Marcia Lott-Jeffers when asked why they voted Union, expressed the sentiments of new members throughout the regions. For Zeigler, the Union represents “job security.” Lott-Jeffers said she voted yes “to build a better future for myself and my family.”
O U R H E A LT H
Members Help Members Control Their Diabetes Benefit Funds’ Peer Mentoring Program connects 1199ers successfully managing the disease with others in need of support. Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy; either the body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin efficiently. This causes sugars to build up in the blood, which can result in serious health complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. According to a 2015 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 30.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. The number includes 1.5 million newly diagnosed cases. As with many diseases and chronic health conditions, vast disparities are seen in access to care and treatment. AfricanAmericans are 1.7 times more likely than white people to develop diabetes. Among African-Americans, prevalence of the disease has quadrupled during the past 30 years. The 1199 Benefit Funds offer eligible members no-cost help in
managing their diabetes. The Funds’ Peer Mentoring Program connects Union members successfully controlling their Type 2 diabetes with others in need of support. Launched in 2015, the program includes personalized coaching (conducted by text), phone and video-based educational materials, and personalized, nutritionist-designed healthy eating tips. The initiative follows a successful pilot program conducted among 1199’s home care workers. “When we launched this program, we matched home care members with similar ethnic and language backgrounds so that mentors were better able to help their mentees tackle cultural and other barriers to successfully managing diabetes,” says 1199SEIU Benefit Funds Chief Medical Officer Van H. Dunn, M.D. “Already, those members have improved medication adherence rates and lowered their hemoglobin A1c
“Never one day have I called in sick because my diabetes is flaring up.” Kim Alleyne An educator discussing healthy lifestyle choices with a participant at a Benefit Fund Health Fair.
For more information about accessing the program or becoming a mentor, call (212) 661-9383
levels.” (A1c is a blood test for diabetes and pre-diabetes.) Kim Alleyne, a home care attendant at Cooperative Home Care Service, was one of the first member mentors. She now works with 10 program participants and trains new mentors. Alleyne says she has a new appreciation for her health and staying on track with the responsibilities of self-care. “Never one day have I called in sick because my diabetes is flaring up,” she says. “It’s a good thing I teamed up with 1199 to help the staff. I want to give back. I want to help.” Though diabetes is often minimized as a result of bad eating habits, it is in truth a physically, emotionally and financially injurious disease. Diabetes generates some $245 billion in yearly medical costs and lost productivity. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., and in 2015 it was listed as a contributing cause of death on 252,806 death certificates. The Benefit Funds’ program seeks to mitigate current trends, providing emotional and practical support, which has been shown to help patients overcome challenges that prevent them from managing their condition and accessing healthcare. While not meant to replace a doctor’s supervision, the program (which is administered by InquisitHealth) provides the invaluable support of members who understand the challenges of living with a chronic, life-threatening condition and the experience of setting goals to improve health and quality of life. Louise Ambriz, a home care attendant at Special Touch Home Care Services, lowered her A1c levels with help from the program and her mentor, Luiza Blyakher, a home care attendant at Hyde Park Home Attendant Services. Ambriz says she had difficulty making appropriate food choices and communicating with caregivers. “My goal was to just watch what I eat, when I eat and how. I didn’t have weight to lose. It was just more or less watching what I eat and reading labels,” she says. “I also learned I could ask my doctor questions. Luiza told me that if I had questions I could write them down and bring them to the doctor to get the answers I need.”
1199 Magazine 21
THE LAST WORD
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby When Marilyn Mosby was sworn in as the 25th State’s Attorney for Baltimore City in 2015 she was the youngest chief prosecutor in any American city. She again made history by choosing to bring charges against the six Baltimore police officers accused in the murder of Freddie Gray. As a woman of color, she represents just 1% of elected prosecutors in the entire country. She graduated from Boston College Law School in her home state of Massachusetts, where she grew up in a law enforcement family, and participated in the state’s historic METCO Program, the longest running voluntary school desegregation program in the country. Ms. Mosby says that experience, along with the murder of a 14-year-old cousin, set her on the path of fighting for a safe and just society for all people. Ms. Mosby is up for re-election in June and is backed by a large coalition of allies – including 1199SEIU. She’s married to Maryland State Delegate Nick Mosby; they live in West Baltimore with their two daughters. Q: What was it like being central to the movement for reform sparked by the murder of Freddie Gray? A: I followed the facts with the law, I did my job and I wouldn’t do anything differently. I didn’t expect to be thrust in the national spotlight, but I wouldn’t do anything different. The backlash was not something I was anticipating. There was this anti-police rhetoric that was coming and was a direct result of what was done. And this was pre-Trump. The hate mail and the death threats and social media attacks were unprecedented. I had a group called Red Nation Rising that sent all of these hateful racist messages. The one that sticks out in my mind was when we received one at my office describing how my husband would be killed coming outside of my house and no police officers would respond. It was definitely something I had to learn to deal with and how not to internalize. What I realized was that it was not a backlash against me but what I represented. When you look at prosecutors – the 22
people who decide who is going to be charged and what they will be charged with, what sentencing conditions are going to be – when you look at that you cannot ignore the fact that 95% of the prosecutors in the country are white, 79% are white men. As I woman of color I represent 1% of all elected prosecutors in this country. So a lot of the backlash had to with me doing what I did and challenging the status quo. I look back now and it was extremely difficult. I did get as much support from the community as I got hate mail. People were calling in support of what I had done, but I didn’t do it for accolades or the turmoil that came after. I did it because it was my job and the right thing to do. Looking back, I’m able to understand that accountability and where you apply justice equally regardless of one’s sex, religion, race or occupation, led to exposure. A week after I charged those officers the Department of Justice came in and exposed the discriminatory policing practices of one of the largest police agencies in the country,
this ultimately led to reform. We now have a federally enforceable consent decree. In spite of the federal administration trying to forestall it, it is still on record. That reform required a spotlight on the entrenched corruption of the police department. Q: Your activism was forged in your youth during your experiences with school desegregation in your home state of Massachusetts. What do you say to today’s young activists? A: What I can tell you is that having gone through one of the longest standing desegregation programs in the country starting when I was six years old, being the only black child in an entire elementary school, at six years I had to figure out that you can either be offended or you can understand that treatment is not necessarily malicious, but comes from a lack of exposure. I had to realize that very early. Again, I had to learn how not to internalize. I had to learn very early on to learn how to take on the responsibility of being a positive representation for Black people. I was in honors classes, co-editor of the school newspaper. I was the spotlight editor, so every edition had to focus on something pertaining to diversity. I was bringing diversity workshops to school. The one thing I try to emphasize to young people is that you must think long term. Its bigger than you. It’s something I talk about to young people all the time. Q: Women, and particularly women of color, with any influence are often accused of being ambitious or working for personal gain. How do you answer those charges? A: We have the Trump Administration that’s touting regression as making America great again on the backs of Black and Brown people, women, and the LGBTQ community. We have to forge a coalition where we aren’t just marching, but actually strategizing, organizing and implementing. That’s what unions do. That’s what they’re known for. That’s why they were at the forefront
“I did it because it was my job and the right thing to do. Looking back, I’m able to understand that account ability and where you apply justice equally regardless of one’s sex, religion, race or occupation, led to exposure.”
Carolina Kroon Photo
of the Civil Rights Movement. It’s scary how much we’ve regressed in a matter of one year. I just spoke at the Baltimore Women’s March. I said we are the backbone of our communities, and it’s time for us to take up the torch and say no. We have to run for office and ensure we’re supporting one another. I get frustrated because it’s about action. Science says women suffer from a confidence gap; we apply for promotions, we run for office when we meet all the requisite criteria, but men do the same when they only meet half. I try to be that example to say yes, we can do this. Q: How can we encourage a greater involvement in local elections? How do we get more women to run? A: It’s definitely an issue. The conservative movement has long understood the importance of local elections when it comes to criminal justice reform, bill review, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, etc. We have to understand that even immigration reform is going to come on local level. Local races have an impact on your daily existence. On the federal level we can see that with taxes and what have you, but your local politicians and your local legislators are the ones who are going to have the most impact on your daily life. We saw that throughout the country when we looked at the division among law enforcement from Ferguson to Baltimore. Prosecutors decide if a person is going to get into the system in the first place. That is an extremely important role. That awesome amount of discretion not only has an impact on victims and defendants, but it also has collateral consequences in our communities. Q: Tell us about growing up in a law enforcement family A: I feel blessed. My grandfather was founding members the first Black police officers’ organization in Massachusetts. My uncle, mother, grandfather, and great uncles—everybody in my family were police officers, so they referred to our house as the “police house.” We had an indoor pool and
a billiards table, so you can guess my house was always occupied. You don’t appreciate it when you’re living in the moment. I met a young man in a coffee shop recently who said to me, “I want to thank you for Mr. T.” Mr. T. was my grandfather. He said he was one of the kids who always stayed at our house, and my grandfather helped change his life. That he wouldn’t be where he is today without him. My grandfather died a month after I was sworn in, but I didn’t appreciate the paternal sort of figure that he was not only to the family but to the community. That is something I feel like we lack today. That ideal community police officer. That’s something that was ingrained in me. It helped forge who I am because even in the police house you aren’t shielded. When I was 14, my cousin who grew up with me like a brother was killed right outside of my house. Even in the police house. He was mistaken as a neighborhood drug dealer. He was an honor student in the METCO Program. It was devastating to me. The image is still branded in my mind. If it wasn’t for a neighbor who cooperated with police and testified in court, my family wouldn’t have received any kind of justice. That was my first introduction to the criminal justice system. I’d never gone into a courtroom. At 14 I wanted to understand how we could have gotten to the young man who took my cousin’s life to make change. Overall, I get a lot of support from the police community
and minority police community. I think people understand and recognize that I’m not anti-police. How can I be? I’m anti-police brutality. I know what my grandfather meant to our community. I know the sacrifices he made in taking time away from his family and risking his life every day. What that meant was so much greater than him and that has been instilled in me. We have a small number of officers who have defined the negative perception, but the vast majority are hardworking individuals who protect their communities every day. I come from that and I recognize it.
“Local races have an impact on your daily existence. Your local politicians and your local legislators are the ones who are going to have the most impact on your daily life.”
Q: What’s on the horizon, locally and nationally? A:I have a lot on my plate. We’ve started a policy and legislative affairs division. Another big thing I’ve been pushing is a serial sexual predator act for the last five years. With the #MeToo movement, it’s extremely relevant. The first time I ran for office there was an 8-time serial rapist breaking into people’s homes. He got off four times in 3 years. The juries were not made aware that he’d been doing this to women the same exact way. I’m pushing to move Maryland standards with federal standards. The truth is that a lot of our successes that have come out of my office have been overshadowed, and all of our success have been overshadowed by negativity. But I’m a fighter and I’m going to keep pushing. 1199 Magazine 23
We Celebrate Black History’s Everyday Heroes
Clara Clarke, a CNA at Park Terrace Care Center in NYC, with her daughter Britney, 17, on the steps of their Brooklyn home. Britney, an aspiring nurse, is a Workforce2000 Program participant. Says Clara Clarke: “Black history is the legacy that has been handed to us. We have to take a stand and make sure there is awareness of Black history not just one month of the year, but every day.” #blackhistorymonth 1199 Magazine 24