1199 Magazine | January / February 2017

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ACA Repeal w/o Replacement Spells Disaster

Massachusetts Members Lead the Way

The EITC: The Tax Break for Working People

NOT ON OUR WATCH!

We will resist the assault on working people & our progress

January-February 2017

A Journal of 1199SEIU January/February 2017


CONTENTS 16

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3 Editorial Attacking labor attacks all of our struggles. 4 The President’s Column We’re the Wall Protecting America from Pres. Trump’s Policies

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@1199seiu www.1199seiu.org 2

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5 Around the Union March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate on April 29 in Washington, D.C.; Strong Hospital 1199ers celebrate Dr. King; members say Rite Aid/ Walgreens merger is bad for NYers.

8 ACA Repeal Spells Disaster Repeal without replacement of Affordable Care Act and Medicare block grants shred the safety net. 11 Leaders In Training Massachusetts program gives member-leaders critical unionbuilding skills 13 The Work We Do: Home Health Aide Vishally Ahmed Staten Island member was leader in the Fight For $15: “We have to make sure we keep this progress going.”

16 Women’s Marches Inaugurate the Resistance Millions worldwide carried the message of equal rights for all. 21 Our Retirees: Jan Bregman Florida’s Jan Bregman broke gender barriers. 22 The EITC The tax break for working people.


1199 Magazine January/February Vol. 35, No. 1 ISSN 2474-7009 Published by 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East 310 West 43rd St. New York, NY 10036 T: (212) 582-1890 www.1199seiu.org

Editorial: Attacking Unions is a War on All of Our Struggles So-called “Right to Work” cloaks efforts against healthcare, women, immigrants, education and more.

president

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 TurnerBiggs Laurie Vallone Estela Vazquez

The barrage began with the stroke of a pen on Inauguration Day. President Trump made good on one of his central campaign promises. He signed the executive order undermining the Affordable Care Act. And as always, 1199ers got on their marching boots and into the streets – with thousands of others – and raised their voices in defense of our communities. “I know firsthand that quality healthcare and affordable healthcare save lives,” Boston Medical Center’s Latia Holmes told attendees at a Jan.12 press conference with local allies to advocate for those insured under the ACA. Since then, we’ve seen a continuous stream of attacks that, of course, includes the introduction of national “Right To Work” legislation – or Right-To-Work-ForLess as we know it. This legislation, along with a tidal wave of expected anti-labor court decisions and appointments, is outright war on all working people. It intersects with all of our other struggles, including our fight to protect those insured under the ACA and fend off disastrous changes to Medicaid. It’s no secret that unions raise wages and standards—in particular for women of color—protect worker health and safety, keep workers employed and defend the social safety net. So this is a de facto attack on the American dream. Illustration by Luba Lukova

editor

Patricia Kenney director of photography

Jim Tynan photographer

Belinda Gallegos art direction & design Maiarelli Studio cover photograph

Belinda Gallegos contributors

Mindy Berman Brinley Lloyd-Bollard Regina Heimbruch JJ Johnson Allison Krause Ivettza Sanchez Sarah Wilson

More than half the states have right to work legislation on their books. As workers, we understand what’s at stake when we fight hostile corporations and billionaires with agendas of privatization and deregulation. Now they’re governing our country. They’ll oversee just about every department that affects working people’s lives, from the National Labor Relations Board

to the Supreme Court. After the inauguration, millions poured into the world’s streets to remind the powerful that the people are watching them. New York City nursing home worker April Louis attended the NYC march with her goddaughter and granddaughter. “I’m here to say we can’t go back,” said Louis. “I want to show my girls that by uniting and demonstrating – this is how we win our rights.” And it’s is how we will continue to protect them.

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.

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The President’s Column by George Gresham

We’re the Wall Protecting America from Pres. Trump’s Policies Together, we’ll fight the administration’s reversal of decades of progress. Well, that didn’t take long. And we can’t say we weren’t warned. One month into his presidency, the man who ran the most racist, sexist, xenophobic, hate-filled and dishonest presidential campaign in at least one hundred years has completely lived up to his campaign image. What have President Trump and his billionaire cabinet members promised us? Elimination of the Affordable Care Act, decimation of Medicaid and Social Security, elimination of the minimum wage, possibly reintroducing child labor, destroying collective bargaining and the rights of labor, curtailing voting rights for African-Americans, Latinos, youth and our elders, preventing women from exercising control over their own bodies, eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and the global climate change pact, and a full-out assault on immigrant workers and families— especially those from Latin America and predominantly Muslim countries —forcing 11 million immigrant workers deeper into the shadows and blocking any path to citizenship. Let’s be clear: President Donald J. Trump’s pledge to “Make America Great Again” is a hallucination. How does any of this make our country great? When he says great again, he means America was great before we had civil rights, voting rights, labor rights, immigrant rights, reproductive rights and the rest. Still worse, the campaign’s focus on the white working class perpetuates 4

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the false notion that the working class of our country is not multiracial and multinational. Those he says he speaks for—the millions who lost good-paying jobs in the auto, steel, mining, rubber and other manufacturing industries— are workers of all hues and many languages. What President Trump never mentions is that those good jobs were good because they were union jobs, won through collective bargaining and struggle. Also going unsaid is that those industries were gutted by the same bankers and billionaires who are now his partners. This is what he should have been referring to when, at his inauguration, the new president spoke about “American Carnage.” Now President Trump prepares to lay waste to 100 years of democratic progress, achievements fought for and won by our multiracial working class and our allies. His list of targets— Medicaid, the ACA, voting rights, the minimum wage, reproductive rights, environmental protection and the rest—became reality because we and our elders and forbears fought for them, often at a terrible price. Nobody ever gave them to us. But this new administration stands ready to wipe out all of these accomplishments. But just as we are in uncharted waters with the Trump White House, it now faces popular resistance never before encountered by a new administration. The president lost the popular vote by three million and is in the White House only because of the slavery-era Electoral College.

He has no mandate. He has no majority. He has no legitimacy. And he has certainly had no “honeymoon” that previous presidents have enjoyed. The day after his inauguration— which was attended by 180,000 according to Capital police and which was about one-tenth the size of President Obama’s 2008 inauguration—more than 3.5 million protesters turned out for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and other cities around the world, a dramatic and fitting response but only the first of many to follow. A few days later, thousands of people spontaneously flooded airports in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere to protest Trump’s cruel ban on refugees and Muslim travelers. This is only the beginning. We are just one month into President Trump’s term. What is the answer to the unfolding catastrophe? We are. We caregivers of 1199SEIU. But not just us. The new president has declared war on the American people and our “gorgeous mosaic,” as former New York City Mayor David Dinkins once described us. With all the levers of power in Washington under the control of far right-wing Republicans in the service of banks and corporations, who will stand up for us if not ourselves? Sure, we will have some good Democratic and Republican allies, but they are only as strong as we make them. As for “fair weather” friends who won’t stand with us, we’ll have to say what the beloved Mississippi civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer once told wavering political leaders: “Move on over, or we’ll move on over you.” There was a sign at the D.C. Women’s March that played on the president’s threats to Mexico. It read, in part, “We Women Are the Wall, Mr. Trump.” Amen to that.

Letters We are entering a very dangerous period, not only for our country, but for the world. Democracy is being challenged, and the clock of our nation is being turned back to a time of leadership only for the richest and wealthiest Americans. The Civil and Human Rights Movements are being put on ice, but I know that this ice will eventually melt. Everything that this Union stands for is being threatened and challenged. If this continues I am afraid there will be tremendous cuts in resources that our members and all individuals in need depend on. Maurice De Palo Montefiore Medical Center Bronx, NY Let’s hear from you. Send your letters to: 1199Magazine, 330 W. 42nd St, 7th Fl., New York, NY 10036 Attn: Patricia Kenney, Editor. Or email them to Patriciak@1199.org, and please put Letters in the subject of your email.


Florida Maryland Massachusetts New Jersey New York Washington, D.C.

Around the Regions

Strong Memorial Members Hold Annual MLK Celebration Members at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY, gathered with family, friends and community members on Jan. 16 for their 36th annual 1199SEIU Rochester Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The yearly event celebrates Dr. King through song, dance, and poetry. Many of the presenters were children who inspired attendees with wisdom beyond their years. The audience was energized by an event that was centered on preparing to face the obstacles in the coming year.

“We understand that there are injustices,” said David Heath, Vice Chair of 1199SEIU at Strong Hospital “But when our people, country and nation all stick together, there’s nothing we cannot overcome.” The event’s keynote speaker was Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who recognized 1199SEIU for its commitment to Dr. King’s core beliefs—fair wages, health care, education, social justice and equal rights for all. “In today’s climate, when the world is in turmoil about what will happen next we must remember the

dream of Dr. King,” Mayor Warren reminded attendees. “And realize that for our children’s sake, it cannot and will not be deferred.”

NEW YORK

In an election held Jan. 11, over 500 service workers at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Center, NY voted 262 to 174 for 1199 representation. The vote included patient care associates, registrars, unit secretaries and environmental, support staff and food service workers. The win capped an anti-union campaign so aggressive that the federal government is now prosecuting Mercy for violating federal law during the campaign. Valerie Baggee, a registration specialist at Mercy, says her “yes” vote was for fair treatment and respect on the job. To that end, Mercy workers refused to be intimidated by management’s ferocious antiunion tactics, which included captive audience meetings, threats to their jobs and a misinformation campaign. “We voted to join the union despite being threatened. Many people

were afraid. Now we are protected employees. I’m so happy to be calling myself an 1199 member,” says Baggee. “We take pride in taking care of our community and now we have a voice for affordable benefits and improved working conditions to better take care of our own families. For me, it really came down to respect.” Regina Heaney, an admitting clerk in Patient Access, became a member of Mercy’s organizing committee after hearing too many workers’ stories of bad treatment. “People were seeing their benefits being changed for the worse in the middle of the year, and we had nowhere to turn,” says Heaney.“Finally, we can stand together and support one another. We now have a say in our conditions, which we never had. We have hope for the future and that is something they cannot take away from us.”

“We now have a say in our conditions, which we never had. We have hope for the future, and that is something they cannot take away from us.”

LI Mercy Workers Thwart Anti-Union Effort & Vote 1199

Members at the 1199SEIU Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

– Regina Heaney, Admitting Clerk, Mercy Med. Ctr.

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Around the Regions NEW YORK

December NH Struggles Highlight Quality Care & Health Benefit Link tudies S confirm nursing homes offering good wages and affordable healthcare benefits have been able to retain a stable workforce and, in turn, improve quality and continuity of care.  Dec. 21 picket at Albany’s Hudson Park NH

Nursing home workers in New York’s Hudson Valley and Capital regions held demonstrations in December calling attention to the connection between quality resident care and livable wages and affordable health benefits for caregivers. 1199SEIU members at Putnam Ridge Nursing Home in Brewster, joined by elected officials, labor allies, community members and clergy, held a candlelight vigil on Dec. 20. The workers protested high staff turnover, which can have a significant impact on quality and continuity of care. Studies confirm nursing homes offering good wages and affordable healthcare benefits have been able to retain a stable workforce, and in turn improve quality and

continuity of care. On Dec. 21, members at Albany’s Hudson Park Rehab and Nursing Center held an informational picket, pushing back on owners’ refusal to provide affordable health benefits. Hudson Park workers were also joined by community supporters and elected officials. Currently, only 37 out of some 160 workers can afford to purchase the insurance offered by the wealthy, corporate for-profit employer. Like Putnam Ridge, Hudson Park has difficulty retaining staff. Workers say residents can’t receive the continuity of care they deserve when there is a revolving door of caregivers. They are continuing to bring the problem to the attention of the community and at press time, workers at both institutions were still in contract negotiations.

Join the People’s March for Jobs, Justice and Climate in Washington, D.C. on 4/29! Now more than ever the future of our world is at stake. President Trump’s administration has resurrected the XL and Dakota pipelines and erased all mention of climate change from the White House website. Natural resources, public health and critical environmental protections are under threat for the sake of corporate profits. March in D.C. on April 29 to demand clean air and water, good jobs, protection for public health and real solutions for climate change! Sign up at www.1199seiu.org/Greenjustice. Join the Green Justice Caucus in your region for more updates! #climatemarch. 6

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NEW YORK

Workers Say Rite Aid/ Walgreens Merger Isn’t Good For NYers WE KNOW WHO FREDERICK DOUGLASS WAS. DO YOU? #BlackHistoryMonth

Capital Region members Denise King (top photo below), a CNA at Rosewood Gardens Nursing and Rehab in East Greenbush, NY, and Tamara Elzubair, a CNA at Albany County Nursing Home, were among the members who visited the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture during a December visit to Washington, D.C. to fight for the Affordable Care Act. “It was very inspirational, especially seeing the young activists. It was so powerful,” says Elzubair. “It showed what people have been fighting and that we’ve been fighting for a long time now.”  1199ers visited the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum in December.

Walgreens Drugstores shareholders attending their annual meeting Jan. 26 at a midtown Manhattan hotel were met by Rite Aid Pharmacy workers who were there to let them know a proposed Walgreens/Rite Aid merger is bad for New York consumers. Workers say the move kills competition and drives up prices. The merger comes with Rite Aid workers in fraught contract talks with the company and yet to settle an agreement. Rite Aid workers like Jessica Lavayen say the merger talks have exacerbated tensions, especially after the company replaced workers’1199 health benefits with a company plan. “We’ve been in limbo. My medical benefits carry our family,” said Lavayen, a cashier at a Rite Aid in Port Washington, NY. “We don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day. My daughter is 14 years old. I have an illness, and I don’t know if my doctor will take the benefits from one day to the next.” At press time, the merger was still under review by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. If approved, the marriage would create the world’s largest retail pharmacy.

Rite Aid members at Jan. 26 Walgreens shareholder meeting in NYC.

“We’ve been in limbo. My medical benefits carry our family. We don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day.” Jessica Lavayen, a cashier at a Rite Aid in Port Washington, NY.

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POLITICS

CARE NOT CHAOS Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Medicaid block grants. 1199ers are on the frontlines of the battle for our healthcare system.

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1199SEIU members, together with community allies, faith groups, elected officials and sisters and brothers from unions across the country are on the front lines of the fight to protect the country’s healthcare system. In every region, Union members have demonstrated, marched, lobbied, and even engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience to send the message that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) cannot be repealed without a better replacement and that our healthcare institutions—particularly those that serve our most needy communities— must have adequate funding. “I know firsthand that quality health care and affordable health insurance save lives,” affirmed Boston Med. Ctr. 1199 member Latia Jones at Jan. 12 press conference. “We need to care for the people who need it most – not have chaos in our healthcare system.” Massachusetts Region members joined allies from Healthcare for All and The Boston Interfaith Organization at the event. Repeal of the ACA was a central plank of President Trump’s campaign; within hours of his inauguration he signed an executive order that signaled the immediacy of his administration’s intent to dismantle the law. Eliminating the ACA without a comparable replacement puts at risk some 30 million people who became insured under the law. It would end hard-won requirements for equal coverage for women, protection for those with preexisting conditions and allowances for young people to stay on their parents’ insurance. “Before the ACA, there were hundreds of people who couldn’t do anything for themselves, and now we see them taking care of themselves,” says Andrea Jenkins, a medical assistant at Medisys Jamaica in Queens, NY, emphasizing the gravity of losing the ACA. “My concern is that now they will die in their homes.” Right-wing Congressional leaders promise after the ACA’s repeal they’ll pass a new healthcare bill—one that doesn’t yet exist. This isn’t lost on the public, and Congresspeople and Senators have been dogged by the cry

BEFORE THE ACA THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WHO COULDN’T DO ANYTHING FOR THEMSELVES, AND NOW WE SEE THEM TAKING CARE OF THEMSELVES. MY CONCERN IS THAT NOW THEY WILL DIE IN THEIR HOMES. Andrea Jenkins, Medisys, NYC

 A Jan. 30 walkout by medical students at Albert Einstein Medical College in the Bronx. They’re fighting thoughtless cuts to the healthcare system.  David Heath, a vice chair at Strong Hospital in Rochester, NY, was arrested during a nonviolent demonstration of civil disobedience in Washington, D.C. Jan. 31.

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POLITICS

 Rev. John Edgerton of Boston’s Old South Church was among those arrested at the nonviolent civil disobedience action in Washington, D.C. Jan.31. Faith leaders have been strong allies in the fight for a sensible replacement for the ACA.

BECAUSE OF THE ACA, I’M ABLE TO KEEP MY DAUGHTER ON MY INSURANCE PLAN AND GET HER THE CARE SHE NEEDS. I AM VERY WORRIED ABOUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF SHE LOSES HER HEALTH COVERAGE BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE ANY OTHER OPTIONS FINANCIALLY.” Pat Matthews CNA Newark, NJ.

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of “show us your plan” to continue protecting those who gained coverage under the ACA. The numbers speak for themselves: 2.2 million Floridians could lose healthcare; in New York State 2.7 million people are at risk. Statistics are comparable nationwide. At demonstrations of every size, including one in Philadelphia on Jan. 26 that drew thousands of protesters, people are pressuring lawmakers to come up with a replacement for the ACA before rushing to repeal. “My 19-year-old daughter has a medical condition that puts her at high-risk of developing glaucoma, so it’s very important that she gets routine check-ups,” said Pat Matthews, a CNA at Forest Hills Healthcare Center in Newark, NJ. “Because of the ACA, I’m able to keep her on my insurance plan and get her the care she needs. I am very worried about what will happen if she loses her health coverage because

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we don’t have any other options financially.” Secondary to the ACA repeal, but at the forefront of the fight for healthcare and the survival of institutions that provide it, is the battle to preserve Medicaid funding. In many states Medicaid was expanded as part of ACA implementation. The vital program has long been in the crosshairs of many on Capitol Hill, including House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan, who now see their chance to replace the current cost-sharing program with fixed-amount block grants. Block grants are designed to cut over $1 trillion from existing Medicaid spending over 10 years. The inflexible disbursements leave states responsible for unexpected healthcare costs, like epidemics or new illnesses—as was the case with AIDS and Zika—and spikes in enrollment because of aging populations or

economic downturns. The current proposal would likely give states broad new authority over eligibility requirements, make enrollment more difficult and lead to draconian budget cuts that will impact services for children, senior citizens, the poor and healthcare institutions in just about every sector. Long-term care is particularly vulnerable; the vast majority of nursing home residents depend on Medicaid. “We are very scared about the Medicaid block grant,” says Michelle Ned, an in-service patient coordinator at Brooklyn’s Interfaith Medical Center. Interfaith serves a low-income community that depends heavily on Medicaid funding. “If they take away Medicaid our community residents will die,” she says. “They will be scared of out of pocket costs and will stay home when they are sick instead of coming to the hospital.”


OUR UNION

Bay State Trains Leaders for Today’s Struggles Member facilitators help build social justice movement.

Participants at the historic Jan. 21 Women’s Marches were urged to return to their communities to continue to advance the struggles for justice, rights and equality. For many that meant continuing the organizing efforts that contributed to the resounding success of the marches. For 1199ers, an outstanding example of such work is that of dozens in the Massachusetts region who are being trained to take their places as leaders in the movement for a just society. The classes, Building A Movement (BAM), have brought together some 56 members, including 22 Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) in Springfield who are organizing—and, in some cases training—co-workers and are acting in their communities to advance a progressive agenda. “I’ve found my strength through my Union,” says Betzaida Ventura, a

“I had a spark in me, now that’s been set on fire.” — PCA Kindalay Cummings-Akers

 Betzaida Ventura, a Holyoke PCA and a member of the BAM class.

Rose Lincoln Photo

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 Tammy Hall, a Springfield PCA, feels her voice is being amplified in her BAM classes.

“We help each other grow by sharing our experiences. We each bring different things to the table, all of which are valuable.” Rose Lincoln Photo

Holyoke PCA and a member of the BAM class. “One of the first things I learned in the classes is that if I fight alone, I can be ignored, but if I unite with others, I’ll be heard.” About three years ago, Ventura knew nothing about 1199SEIU. Since then she’s lobbied in Washington and even took a photo with President Barack Obama. She campaigned in New Hampshire for Hillary Clinton. The BAM curriculum includes topics as varied as organizing skills, solidarity and building alliances, the environment and climate justice, political economy, institutional racism and the use of social media. All the members interviewed also attended other leadership classes prior to the BAM sessions. The BAM classes use the popular education model, which is based 12

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on participant engagement and leadership. In the classes, participants are co-learners who draw lessons from their personal experiences and issues in their workplaces and communities, and then decide on actions they can take to make the changes they need. The PCA members say that the desire to help others that brought them to their profession has also led them to the classes. But instead of working alone with one client, they have found a family of sisters and brothers who lift each other up and amplify all their voices. “We help each other grow by sharing our experiences,” says Tammy Hall, a Springfield PCA. “We each bring different things to the table, all of which are valuable.” The importance of unity and sharing were common themes among

— PCA Tammy Hall

the members. “We are a family in which we all have something special,” says Kindalay Cummings-Akers, another Springfield PCA. CummingsAkers cites another theme that was echoed by others. “Before I attended classes, I didn’t like to talk; I was that student who remained in the back of the room,” she says. “ The classes not only increased my knowledge, it also increased my confidence. I had a spark inside me, that’s now been set on fire.” “The classes I have taken, including those before BAM also set a good example for my daughters, who are both young women,” Hall says. “I’m proud of my girls and they are proud of me. We are moving forward together.” Shortly before the interview with 1199 Magazine, the PCAs had attended a session on Climate and the Environment. “We weren’t aware of all the issues related to our climate,” Hall notes. “There was so much I didn’t understand, but what we learned we can now share with our co-workers and in our communities.” “These classes are helping us build our Union and a movement,” Hall says. She cites the strength and confidence she’s gained facilitating classes for new members and helping them to follow her path. “We are implementing the ‘Me Plus Three.’ That program calls for each BAM member to organize three other members or persons in their network to do Union and social justice work. Some class members, for example, brought three others to the Boston Women’s March. Members also say that being better informed helps make them better PCAs. “I do this work because I love people,” Ventura says. “In fact, I have a passion for people. I don’t want my clients to be denied their rights or, worse, to die.” That is why, she says, she will hold her elected officials accountable. “We’re going to continue to share what we’ve learned with other PCAs and members,” Ventura emphasizes. “And regardless of who is in office, we’re going to continue to fight and continue to move forward.”


THE WORK WE DO Staten Island member Vishally Ahmed was a leader in the Fight For $15: “We have to make sure we keep this progress going.” 1199 Magazine 13


THE WORK WE DO Home Health Aide Vishally Ahmed needed a job. She was newly single and had two kids to support. Her mother was working in home care at the time and suggested to Ahmed that she give it a try—the hours were flexible and the work suited her during a stressful period in her life. That was 10 years ago. Today Ahmed is a delegate and leader among the home health aides at Staten Island’s Stella Orton Agency. 14

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Ahmed with her client Sevret Sausto, who is 83. “I have an 83-yearold grandmother, so I understand that it takes patience to take care of a client,” she says. “Doing this work you think about your own family when you walk into a house and how you have to have respect for the person you care for.” Ahmed is often frustrated with society’s image of homecare workers. “A lot of people don’t understand what we do. They think we’re babysitters. We are alone with our clients all day long.”

1. “I became a delegate to help members learn more about our benefits and what we can gain when we fight for our rights,” she says. “I like helping people out. It can be challenging, but you have to push people even if they don’t want to go out and fight for themselves.” 2. “The raise we got in December to $11.00 is a start. I’m thankful for what we get now. I remember doing this work for $9.00 an hour. So now we have to keep fighting to improve things—like for better benefits. Our paycheck is important, but so are our benefits.”

3. Ms. Sausto does not speak much English. Ahmed knows little Spanish, yet they still communicate effectively— sometimes with help from Sausto’s family. “It changes you a lot when you’ve bonded with a person. When you have to walk away from them at the end of the day, you feel bad,” says Ahmed “You think about them, and you pray that they’ll be okay until you return.”

4. “The Fight For $15 is important because there are a lot of women out there who need to keep this progress going. I’m lucky. I have a husband now, but many women are on their own and responsible for their families,” she says. “I went to the Women’s March to show that we deserve our rights and fair pay because we work hard.”

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1199ers marched throughout the regions—along with millions from Antarctica to Accra, Ghana—to tell the White House that human rights aren’t up for grabs. On Jan. 21—one day after the presidential inauguration—nearly 5 million people flooded the streets in hundreds of cities and towns around the nation and the world. At some 670 marches ranging in size from a handful to hundreds of thousands of people, the world’s women and their supporters asserted their commitment to nonviolence and protecting the rights of women, disabled persons, the LGBTQI community; and civil rights, reproductive justice, and the environment.

Women’s Marches Inaugurate the Resistance 1199 Magazine 17


Women’s Marches Inaugurate the Resistance

“ I’m here to say that we can’t go back. I want to show my girls that by uniting and demonstrating— this is how we win our rights.” April Louis, a CNA at Dewitt Nursing Home in Manhattan

Organizers of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and the hundreds of sister marches that grew out of it around the globe, emphasize that the events were not direct responses to the U.S. presidential election. Still, the actions were the world’s anxiety writ large around the Trump administration and its policies. Thousands of 1199SEIU members and their families marched and rallied in at least 13 cities: Washington, D.C., Boston and Northampton, MA, Trenton, NJ, and Orlando and St. Petersburg, FL. In New York State, members marched in New York City, Syracuse, Watertown, Seneca Falls, Rochester, Ithaca and Buffalo. 1199ers marched with parents, children, siblings, and spouses. Many donned the signature hot pink, kitteneared hats and other bright pink apparel. They carried hand-made placards that were riots of color and the Union’s own

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signs celebrating women labor leaders. In Massachusetts, members gathered near one of the landmarks of American Resistance—Boston Common. Hand-lettered signs proclaimed “We Will Not Go Back” and “Feminism: Back by Popular Demand!” In New York City, April Louis, a CNA at Dewitt Nursing Home in Manhattan, was among the 1199ers who joined the march and rally of 400,000 strong. Louis brought her granddaughter Serenity Anderson, 6, and goddaughter Jaja Davis, 9. Standing in the crowd that stretched nearly halfway across Manhattan from the East River, Louis motioned to the little girls as she discussed her commitment to them. “I’m here to say that we can’t go back,” affirmed Louis. “I want to show my girls that by uniting and demonstrating— this is how we win our rights.” (continued on page 20)


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Women’s Marches Inaugurate the Resistance

Thousands of 1199SEIU members and their families marched and rallied in at least 13 cities: Washington, D.C., Boston and Northampton, MA, Trenton, NJ, and Orlando and St. Petersburg, FL. In New York State, members marched in New York City, Syracuse, Watertown, Seneca Falls, Rochester, Ithaca and Buffalo.

(continued from page 18)

Several hundred 1199 retirees and active members headed to the nation’s capital from New York City. Boarding buses as the sun’s first rays shone in the morning sky, members were full of excitement and stern messages for the new POTUS. “I’m here because I believe in a woman’s right to choose—a woman’s right,” said Linda Lawson, a retired clerk from Brooklyn’s Interfaith Medical Center. “A woman and a doctor—not Donald Trump.” In Washington, D.C., 1199ers crackled with energy as they joined cheering throngs. 1199SEIU Pres. George Gresham gave remarks the capping the D.C. rally as members headed off to march. “We in this country will stick together—we will fight together, we will support each other,” promised Gresham. “We will stand up for women’s rights. We will fight for immigrant’s rights. We will stand up for worker’s rights. We will stand up for human rights. We will stand up for environmental rights.” 20

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OUR UNION

Our Retirees Jan Bregman’s quiet tenacity paved the way for union rights and gender equality.

Jan Bregman retired last October after 18 years as a monitor tech at HCA-affiliated Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL. Her low-key manner belies a tenacious spirit that eight years ago made Bregman instrumental in bringing the Union into Northside. “The administration didn’t want the Union, and I just thought it was a good idea to have the Union. Then everyone would be treated fairly,” she says. “If someone was fired they had nowhere to go except to the administration. What was that going to do?” Fairness and equality are among her most deeply held beliefs. “We were all created equally. Do unto others what you would have them do to you is the way I was raised. Why would I want anyone treated in a way I wouldn’t want to be treated?” she affirms. And she is a woman who clearly lives by example. In the early 1970’s she and her husband Mark were living in Exeter, PA when they applied to community’s volunteer fire department. The town needed ambulance drivers. Mark was accepted, but Jan was turned down. “I got a lot of flak from them,” she says. “I wasn’t an activist or anything. I just wanted to help out.” So guided by her innate sense of equality, Bregman went about the work of making change. She later found out there were other women who had applied and were also turned down. “[The department] said I could not work there because I was a woman, but the federal government came out and said you cannot discriminate against women; you have to treat them the same as men,” she says matter-of-

 Florida retiree Jan Bregman’s determination forced the Exeter, PA volunteer fire department to open its ranks to women.

Do unto “ others what you would have them do to you is the way I was raised. Why would I want anyone treated in a way I wouldn’t want to be treated?”

factly. “We found out who owned the mortgage of the fire department, so we talked to the bank and the bank told the department they could lose their building and equipment if they didn’t follow federal law. They finally admitted me.” The law may have been on Bregman’s side. Not all of fellow volunteers felt the same way. “I was treated worse than the new recruits. We would gear up and one time someone turned off my breathing apparatus. I had hard time breathing and finally someone turned it back on. They did not want me there,” she recalls.

She persevered, eventually becoming an EMT, CPR instructor and monitor tech. Bregman and her husband moved to Florida 18 years ago. Though she’s now retired, she knows women workers still have a lot of unfinished business. “I’m very thankful to have had these opportunities. I am thankful there are younger ones to carry it on. Women are so involved. There is nothing to hold anybody back, especially [for] a woman. You can be a director of a hospital. There are so many avenues [now],” she says. “My philosophy is, ‘nobody is going to hold me back’.”

1199 Magazine 21


YOU R MON EY

Make sure your tax refund is all it can be with the Earned Income Tax Credit 1199SEIU and the National Benefit Fund are again making available a free tax prep program for members, so they can pay only the taxes they owe and apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax refund for low-to moderate income families. Since its inception in 1999, the program has helped NYC members alone file for $100 million dollars in refunds. The program works with professional tax preparers at sites throughout the Union’s regions to help members prepare their taxes free of charge. Here is what you’ll need to file for the EITC and site locations, dates and times. Call the listed numbers for more information. or log on to www.1199SEIUbenefits.org. #EITC #ItsYourMoneyGetIt 22

January-February 2017


WHAT YOU’LL 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 ID • Social Security Card • All applicable forms from 2016, including W-2, 1099, 1098-T, 1095- A, 1095-B/1095-C, 1098 and 1098-E. • Tax Employer Identification Number and SSN of your child care provider if you are claiming child care expenses • Sample check with routing number if you’d like direct deposit of your refund • Amounts of any other income such as jury fees or gambling winnings • A copy of last year’s tax returns

EITC SITE LOCATIONS: FLORIDA Call Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) to locate sites near you If you can’t find a convenient site near you, there are additional Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites that offer free tax preparation. Just call the VITA Site Locator Hotline at (800) 906-9887 or use the VITA Site Locator Tool at www.IRS.gov/Individuals/Finda-Location-for-Free-Tax-Prep to locate your nearest VITA site and find hours of operation and contact numbers. MARYLAND Baltimore: 611 North Eutaw Street; Call (443) 449-2019 or BCC Tax. Appointment Line (410) 234-8008, or log on to www.bmorefreetaxes.org Feb. 1 – April 15: Tue., Wed. & Thur., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. MASSACHUSETTS Call (877) 409-1199 Feb. 1 – Apr. 18: Quincy: 108 Myrtle Street; Mon., Tue. & Fri., 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Springfield: 20 Maple Street; Tue., 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Thur., 12 noon – 6 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.   NEW YORK & NEW JERSEY Buffalo: 2421 Main Street, Suite 100; Call (716) 982-0540, ext. 3721, or ext. 3722. Feb. 1 – April 15: (Off-sites only for the month of February) Mon., 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Tue., 12 noon – 5 p.m.; Wed., 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Thur., 12 noon – 5 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

DOWNSTATE NEW YORK & NEW JERSEY Members in New Jersey and Downstate New York, including New York City, Westchester County and Long Island can log on to www.1199SEIUbenefits.org for information about the EITC Program’s free tax preparation site locations, hours of operation, contact information and other resources. NORTH COUNTRY 95 East Main Street, Gouverneur; Call (315) 287-9013 ext. 11 Feb. 2 – Apr 13: Mon., 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.; Thur., 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. ROCHESTER 259 Monroe Ave, Suite, 220, 2nd Fl.; Call (585) 730-6433 Jan. 28 – Apr. 18: Strong Memorial Hospital: 601 Elmwood Ave.; Tue., 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. Jan. 30 – Feb. 12: Tue., 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. Union Office: 259 Monroe Ave., Suite 220; Jan. 28 – Jan. 29: Sat., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Jan. 30 – Feb. 12: Thur., 3 p.m. – 8 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Feb. 13 – Mar. 26: Tue., 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Thur., 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Mar. 27 – April 16: Tue., 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Thur., 3 p.m. – 8 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Apr. 17 – Apr. 18 (last day to file): Tue., 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. SYRACUSE 1199 SEIU/SEOC Free Tax Center: 100 New St.; Call (315) 424-1743 ext. 111 Feb. 1 – Apr. 18: Mon. – Thur., 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

1199 Magazine 23


We Honor Black History

“ It is interesting how a movement is triggered at a certain moment in history. I can’t help but believe that at some time in the nottoo-distant future there is going to be another movement to change these systemic conditions of poverty, injustice and violence in people’s lives.” Mrs. Coretta Scott King in a 1980’s interview with Ebony Magazine

#ShePersisted #BlackHistoryMonth 1199 Magazine 24