1199 Magazine

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EITC Program Dates and Locations

Caregivers, Healers, & Activists

We Care. We Count. Census 2020.

Delegate Training Program

A Journal of 1199SEIU January-February 2020

Florida CNA Catherine Jefferson’s son Eric was shot to death last year on Dec. 18, just five days before his 38th birthday. See story on page 12.

Members talk about how guns and gun violence have affected their lives.


January-February 2020


tals count

representation counts “don’t forget to count the baby!”



families count

5 The President’s

10 Keep the

17 Hope Floats

Baltimore candidate screening; Florida members donate to Hurricane Dorian relief; NYC retiree banquet.

Members fight to save long-term care facilities from predatory owners.

1199’s Latino Caucus

She thought Medicaid Promise than Column this year, It’s easier ever Hurricane Katrina NY 1199ers No permanent to complete the for more washed away her discusscensus. why we friends, only dreams. Today must protect this permanent informa tion keep an eye on y our mailbox, she’s an RN. vital program. interests. talk to your organizer or delegate, or 18 Our Caucus 11 Hudson Valley 6 Around the visit census.gov. Program NH Strike Regions

census 2020. we care. we count!

12 @1199seiu www.1199seiu.org 2

January-February 2020

8 We Care. We Count. A word from President Gresham on why our participation in the 2020 Census is critical.

12 Gun Stories Personal tragedy and public health crisis. Members share their experiences with gun violence. 16 Tax Breaks Aren’t Just for the Wealthy EITC Program dates, times and locations.

20 Our Delegate Training Program Supporting our leaders for our Union’s future. 22 Black History Month Labor history is Black history.

1199 Magazine January-February 2020 Vol. 38, 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: Fighting For a Country That Works For Us All The power of working people is what makes America great. Florida CNA Catherine Jefferson buried her murdered son in December. New York Capital Region CNA Taneisha Addison is petrified of losing the health insurance in the bankruptcy and sale of her nursing home. And New York City Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor Danisha Marrero worries that looming Medicaid cuts will be fatal for some of her clients. This is where we are in the first months of 2020, a presidential election year, and three years into an administration that vowed to make America great again by destroying long-standing labor protections, expelling hardworking immigrants, cutting programs that serve our poor and vulnerable, expanding the exploitation of our natural resources, and cutting taxes for the wealthiest among us, all while embroiling the nation in military actions, trade wars, and diplomatic blunders. 1199ers know that the current moment is driven by a minority of wealthy and powerful decision-makers creating an excuse to turn away from the realities of other people’s lives. 1199 is big enough not to let them. 1199ers are uniquely familiar with the realities of systemic racism, health disparities, poverty, mass incarceration, corporate greed, and the legacy of America’s history. We also know that those things fuel our unique and proven ability to make change. President Gresham reminds us that, in addition to being workers, every Hanna Barczyk one of us is something else— a mother, a brother, a sister, a breadwinner, a taxpayer, a homeowner, a student — and we each have a set of worries that keep us up at night and invested in the future of our country and the world.

In the coming months, we are going to start talking about our Union’s platform and the critical issues driving our work in the 2020 elections. We are going to be hearing more about good jobs, healthcare, safe communities, climate justice and more. We will be talking about ways we can push back on the division, vilification, and mythmaking currently holding sway in our country. We’ll be having real conversations about the critical importance of our participation in the 2020 Census, why we must register to vote, how


George Gresham secretary treasurer

Maria Castaneda executive vice presidents

Jacqueline Alleyne Yvonne Armstrong Lisa Brown Tim Foley Patrick Forde Ruth Heller Antonio Howell Maria Kercado Steve Kramer Joyce Neil Monica Russo Rona Shapiro Milly Silva Gregory Speller Veronica Turner-Biggs Nadine Williamson editor

Patricia Kenney director of photography

Jim Tynan

art direction & design Maiarelli Studio cover photo

Jim Tynan contributors

Mindy Berman Regina Heimbruch JJ Johnson Erin Rojas Desiree Taylor Sarah Wilson

we can get involved in our communities, and how our power to build a movement will navigate our nation onto the right path. In the meantime, 1199ers will continue to do what we have always done: let injustice fuel our activism and fight for the future of our families, our planet, and a country that works for us all.

The current moment is driven by a minority of wealthy and powerful decision-makers creating an excuse to turn away from the realities of other people’s lives.

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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Social Media CORRECTIONS Election Information

1199SEIU MARYLAND/DC: Congratulations to our members at UMMS Midtown Hospital, who negotiated 2%-3% raises, market-rate adjustments for 11 job titles, solid shift differentials, and a whopping $3,000 per year in tuition!

@1199SEIU: Even #BabyYoda knows that our union delegates are the first line of defense against management overreach! #UnionStrong #UnionsForAll #1u

@1199MASS: This #MLKDay take action with homecare workers & demand: • Affordable long term care for all • Living wages of at least $15 an hour • Benefits including training opportunities And the choice to join a union! #RiseUpHomecare

Due to an editing error in the November/ December 1199 Magazine, we listed incorrect dates for the 2020 presidential primary and statewide primary elections. The correct dates for the 2020 presidential primaries are as follows: Massachusetts 3/3 Florida 3/17 Maryland 4/28 New York 4/28 New Jersey 6/2 Washington, D.C. 6/2 For information about state and local elections, check with your area’s Board of Elections. We regret the error.

Name Spelling

@1199SEIUFLORIDA: Our retirees are in the house talking about healthcare and making plans for 2020. What a great way to start the new year.

@1199SEIU: We Won! Healthcare workers at Health Alliance Hospital in Kingston, New York have voted overwhelmingly to join 1199SEIU. Congratulations on this outstanding victory and welcome to the 1199SEIU family!

NJ STAFFING BILL UPDATE: We learned this morning that the leadership of the New Jersey Assembly Democrats has refused to put up a strong nursing home safe staffing bill for a vote.

In the last issue, we misspelled the name of a Montefiore patient. The correct spelling is Iffat Mahamud-Khan. We regret the error.

Let’s hear from you. Send your letters to: 1199 Magazine, 330 W. 42nd St, 7th Fl., New York, NY 10036, Attn: 1199 Magazine, Editor; or email them to magazine@1199.org. Please put “Letters” in the subject line of your email. 4

January-February 2020

Elections Are About Building A Country That Works For Us All Candidates who want our support need to stand with us when we need them. The President’s Column by George Gresham

Unlike most countries—Canada, France, Japan, and Mexico, for example—where election campaigns only last a few weeks, our country’s campaigns seem to go on forever. It’s as if the next campaign begins the day after an election. It can be exhausting. But, sisters and brothers, in this election year of 2020, we cannot afford to become weary, bored, or disinterested. I’m not a gambler, but I know that in poker there is something called table stakes, where every player bets all their chips, and the winner takes all. This year’s elections are political table stakes and we are all in. Everything we hold dear is on the table. We simply can’t afford to lose. I hope every 1199er is paying close attention to the upcoming elections. You would be doing yourself and your loved ones a disservice if you are not. We will need each of you—including our tens of thousands of wonderful retired members—to play your part. This means registering to vote, and of course, voting. For those of you who may not be eligible to vote, you are still eligible to register others, phonebank, and door knock. Every one of us can talk to our co-workers, friends, neighbors, and relatives, about what’s at stake in November. We can also have these conversations with our church families and with members of the clubs, societies and civic groups to which we belong. Obviously, the presidential race is, by far, the most important, but also keep in mind that one third of the U.S. Senate, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, many governorships, and most state legislative seats will also be on the ballot. We are a large union representing hundreds of thousands of workers

from the tip of Florida to the Canadian border. Our members are what former New York City Mayor David Dinkins used to call a “gorgeous mosaic,” embracing virtually every religion (or none), ethnicity, color, gender identification (or none), and various political parties (or none). Even with our many differences, 1199ers understand that we are ALL workers and we are all under attack by the corporate powers and politicians who do their bidding. Moreover, we are healthcare workers at a time when the federal government and some states are doing all they can to deny affordable coverage. That said, 1199ers aren’t just workers; we’re also taxpayers, breadwinners, parents, siblings, consumers, neighbors, students, and much, much more, so as working people, we have a lot at stake this election year. Every one of us has some mix of concerns about the future of our jobs, the wellbeing of our communities and loved ones, the quality of public education, the cost of higher education, the future of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the quality of our air and water, the threat of climate change, the rise of white supremacist and racist movements, the attempt to wall off our country while expelling millions of hardworking immigrants, our unending wars, and other issues that keep us up at night and are too numerous to list. So, with all this in mind, we will be carefully listening to what the various candidates say—and more importantly, what they have done— to protect and advance working families. One subject that’s often missing from election campaigns is what the candidates have done and will do to stand up for unions—the

most important and effective weapon workers have to make our collective strength felt on our jobs and in our communities. Who has fought for our right to organize new workers free from employer intimidation? Who has stood with us in a contract fight? In years past, many politicians— supposed friends of labor—looked on unions as kind of an ATM, embracing us during an election and forgetting us until the next campaign. Those days are gone. If candidates want our support when they need us, they should know that we will support those who are with us when we need them. There are no free passes here. They must earn our support. We 1199ers are a powerful force because we do not give in and we never give up. This year, we are ready for the fight of our lives. And every candidate who wants us to stand with them needs to understand that elections are not simply about helping them to victory, but about the future of our families, our planet, and building a country that works for us all.

In the past, many politicians— supposed friends of labor—looked on unions as kind of an ATM, embracing us during an election and forgetting us until the next campaign. Those days are gone.

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Around the Regions  1199ers present a check for $10,000 that helped ship three containers of supplies to stormravaged Grand Bahama.

Retired AND Active

New York City-area 1199 retirees shook a tail feather at their annual holiday banquet held on December 8 in a Midtown Manhattan hotel. With chapters in New York City, Westchester, Long Island, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Florida, the Union’s Retiree Local is 1199’s largest and fastest growing division. At this year’s banquet 1199’s retirees once again proved that they’re hardly ready for the rocking chair! For more information about 1199’s Retirees Division and its programs, call (646) 473-8688 or (800) 892-2557 from outside New York City. You can also go to https://www.1199seiubenefits.org/ retiree-activities/.


Florida 1199ers Donate $20K to Hurricane Relief Months after Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, residents in hard hit areas are still struggling to recover. Many were touched by this tragedy, including members of 1199SEIU Florida who have relatives and friends living in the Bahamas. But even those without direct ties still wanted to help the victims. So, members reached out to their coworkers to ask for donations and they were able to raise a significant amount of money. The first of two donations was given to the Haitian American Nurses Association, or HANA of Florida. The organization was quick to answer the call for help from the residents impacted by the hurricane. According to news reports, more than 13,000 homes on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands were destroyed or damaged. “After seeing the photos and videos of the flooded homes and streets and the displaced residents, we felt compelled to help,” said Carline Gele, an 1199SEIU member and leader of the Caribbean Caucus. “Not only are there many Bahamians impacted by 6

January-February 2020

the hurricane but also Haitians. They are among the thousands of people in the Bahamas still trying to recover. We’re thankful organizations like HANA are offering relief and we’re glad to lend a helping hand.” Members also gave a donation to another group that has helped with hurricane relief efforts. 1199SEIU staff and members presented a $10,000 check to an organization called The Smile Trust. Immediately after the storm, it collected numerous essential supplies and shipped them via three 50-foot containers to the Bahamas. Volunteers also filled cargo planes with supplies that were sent to other ravaged areas of the island nation. “This will help us with our next phase,” said Valencia Gunder, Executive Director of the The Smile Trust. “We’ll be working with 100 Bahamian students from Florida Memorial University to help them with tuition because their families can’t assist them. We’ll also do a service program with the students so they can help with recovery efforts in the Bahamas.”

According to news reports, more than 13,000 homes on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands were destroyed or damaged.

Santa Wore Purple 1199SEIU members brought smiles to the faces of over 300 kids in Uptown Manhattan at Christmas time with toy deliveries to the Harlem Link Charter School and PS 115 in Washington Heights. Kids from both schools—from kindergarten to fifth grade—received a special delivery that was distributed by 1199 staff and members. The toys were collected by some of Santa’s favorite Union helpers at the 1199’s Delegates Holiday Party, held in New York City in December.

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

 On Jan. 20, Rochester 1199ers held the 39th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at Strong Memorial Hospital Medical Center.  “We got just about everything we negotiated for. We didn’t give in easily,” said St. Elizabeth negotiating committee member Latesha Quarles (at left in photo).


Rochester 1199ers Celebrate Dr. King’s Life & Legacy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is considered 1199SEIU’s North Star. And 1199ers have been celebrating the life of the man who called 1199 “my favorite union” since his untimely death in 1968. Once again, this year scores of healthcare workers, activists and community supporters gathered at Rochester, New York’s Strong Memorial Hospital Medical Center for the 39th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The event was launched in 1981 at Strong and its sister institution University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), when workers began holding an event marking January 15, Dr. King’s birthday. The event has grown over the years and is a highlight on the

Strong/URMC calendar. As in years past, this year’s celebration included music and poetry; the keynote speaker was County Court Judge Karen Baily Turner. In his closing remarks at the celebration, 1199SEIU VP Tracey Harrison commended the diligent work of the planning committee, singling out chief delegate Phyllis Lowry for her contribution and dedication. “1199SEIU has always subscribed to the ideology of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a transformational leader and his work is immeasurable and continues to impact people all over the world,” said Harrison. “As a healthcare union, we have tried to model his work and the principles that he espoused while fighting to make a change.”


Contract Victory at St. Elizabeth Members at Baltimore’s St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center ratified a strong contract in the summer of 2019, and they attribute their wins to wide member participation at bargaining. They won 2% annual raises, earlier shift differentials, increases in tuition remission, and 75/25 insurance splits, among other things. As bargaining team member Latesha Quarles said, “We got just about everything we negotiated for. We didn’t give in easily.” The negotiations were standing-room only—packed with members who were unified in their demands. Quarles remembered that management really “knew that we were united. When they saw a few, they thought they had

the victory, but then we turned around and came back with more people.” Teresa Stout, another bargaining committee member who also credits member participation with the win, urged members in all regions to “come to the meetings because it makes a difference when we have more people because then they see we’re about it, that we’re serious.”

Baltimore Candidate Meet and Greet On December 10, 1199ers participated in a Baltimore City meet and greet with candidates for local elections. The festive event gave members an opportunity to discuss ways to build power, make change, and choose elected officials who will stand with working people, all while

having a good time! The event gave members an opportunity to help build a better Baltimore and help make sure working people are represented in the statehouse and city halls! Register to vote with your delegate or organizer and look for information on upcoming events.

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We Care. We Count. The 2020 Census is coming. We all must participate because we can’t afford not to.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, The 2020 Census is fast approaching, and I can’t overstate the importance of your participation. When you and your family members are counted, you help to make sure that $675 BILLION in federal money is distributed fairly. At stake is funding for our schools, roads, public transportation systems, emergency readiness needs, and healthcare institutions, including hospitals, nursing homes, homecare agencies, and clinics. Your census response helps shape public policy, ensure our representation in government, and build more inclusive, empowered communities. Results are used to determine how many seats each state gets in our U.S. House of Representatives. With the relentless attack on our voting rights through purges and politically motivated redistricting, it’s imperative that you and everyone you know participates in the 2020 Census. Efforts to marginalize and limit our communities are no secret. Our interests are too often overshadowed by those of corporations and the wealthy. The 2020 Census is an opportunity for us to make sure we are fully represented, and our needs are considered by our representatives and other powerful decision makers. Participating in the 2020 Census is fast, easy, and confidential. There are no questions about immigration status, and your responses are safe, secure, and protected by law. The U.S. Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about households, individuals, or businesses—even to law enforcement agencies. And 1199 will do everything in our power to ensure that the U.S. Census is conducted safely and fairly. In the coming weeks and months, you’ll receive information about how to respond to the 2020 Census, including online or by mail. You can also go to www.2020Census.gov to learn more. Our Union has joined a host of partners in outreach efforts. Keep an eye out for meetings and information. In the meantime, remember that we need you, your neighbors, and your co-workers to participate. We’re counting on you to stand up and be counted!

1199SEIU President George Gresham 8

January-February 2020

Participating in the 2020 Census is fast, easy, and confidential. There are no questions about immigration status, and your responses are safe, secure, and protected by law.

a day in the life of the census ...these improvements will really shorten my commute...


infrastructure counts ...so glad the clinic is close to home so i can bring the baby...

clinics and hospitals count “we learned about the census at school. let’s fill it out together!”

representation counts “don’t forget to count the baby!”

families count this year, It’s easier than ever to complete the census. for more information keep an eye on your mailbox, talk to your organizer or delegate, or visit 2020census.gov.

census 2020. we care, we counT. 1199 Magazine 9

Keep The Medicaid Promise Members urge lawmakers to avoid drastic cuts to the vital healthcare program. Medicaid was created a little over half a century ago, when Lyndon Johnson shepherded the program through Congress as part of his ambitious Great Society program.

 1199ers from around NYS mobilized in January, urging lawmakers to protect Medicaid. 10

For many of us, it may seem that Medicaid has been a constant part of American society—providing a much-needed healthcare safety net for seniors as well as disabled and low income adults and children. But in fact, Medicaid was created a little over half a century ago, when Lyndon Johnson shepherded the program through Congress as part of his ambitious Great Society program. At the time, the country was still reeling from John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and there was a steady wave of support for a more equitable society, built on the Kennedy Administration’s gains. At the time, many Republicans and conservatives fiercely opposed Medicaid and its sister program for seniors, Medicare. Many in the party fought bitterly to cut them ever since. Today we see a continuation of those efforts with the Trump Administration’s massive tax cut for the wealthy and the removal of $1.5 trillion from the federal budget, providing an excuse to cut funding to programs like Medicaid. States depend on Federal dollars for their Medicaid programs, which

January-February 2020

ensures that all families can get the health care they need to get healthy and stay healthy. It allows everyone to see a doctor when they are sick, get check-ups, buy medications, and go to the hospital. This year, New York state officials announced a $2.5 billion gap in available state funding for Medicaid. That puts a big target on the back of safety net hospitals and other vital services. In response, 1199ers are mobilized and urging elected official to reject damaging cuts to this vital lifeline for millions of New Yorkers. They can do so with new revenue from the wealthy and corporations and a focus on rooting out profiteering and excess administrative costs in the system. In January, 1199ers went to Albany to lobby lawmakers to Keep the Medicaid Promise and avoid trying to balance the budget by threatening the health care of vulnerable people across the state. Lauren Jarushewsky, an Occupational Therapy Assistant at the Orzac Center for Rehabilitation in Valley Stream, emphasized how the quality

of care her patients receive would be affected. “As therapists, we went into this field to help people meet their potential, but with cuts it’s very stressful to try to do that. Of course, we get the job done, because we’re dedicated professionals, but when patients are discharged early it’s stressful on them and stressful on their caregivers at home. They affect everyone.” Danisha Marrero, who works as a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) in the Opium Addiction Program at Mt Sinai Beth Israel in New York City, says Medicaid cuts have a domino effect on vulnerable populations. “For me, this isn’t just about the opiate crisis. When you talk about making these cuts you are talking about all kinds of treatments. Hospitals will have to turn people away. Those who need them won’t be able to access medications on which they depend. I can tell you cuts would hurt my patients in many ways. And that’s a significant number of people; about 85% of the people I see rely on Medicaid.” Marrero says the answer does not lie in taking money out of the budget and that caregivers, who can be the voices of their patients, need to be brought into the conversation. “We have a broken system and it has to be fixed. What am I supposed to say to a patient who has had their Medicaid cut and could die without treatment? We need to fix this problem at its root,” Marrero emphasizes. “The fact that some of our elected officials even entertain making these kinds of dangerous cuts is really concerning. It tells me they don’t understand what is really going on with our patients and in our communities.” “When Medicare cuts went into effect last October, we lost 3 Occupational Therapists and 3 Physical Therapists,” adds Jarushewsky. “More Medicaid cuts will just cause even more to be taken away. We will have less time to spend with patients and must do more for our patients in less time. As professionals we still must give our patients the same level of care, but now we have to do in 30 minutes what used to take 60 minutes.”

Capital Region Caregivers

Fend Off Attack on Their Contract With a new owner ready to gut their contract, unified workers took a leap of faith and pushed management back to the bargaining table. In dire straits due to their financial mismanagement, for years The Lutheran Care Network (TLCN) operated their Delmar, NY facilities, Good Samaritan Nursing Home, and an assisted living facility, Kenwood Manor, on a shoestring budget. As the buildings deteriorated, the workers were continually challenged by short-staffing and diminished supplies. Making things worse, the employer paid the workers’ Health Benefit Fund only sporadically, creating uncertainty for the caregivers whose benefits could end at any time. No one was surprised in December when TLCN filed for bankruptcy. But, with the facilities in shambles, only one for-profit corporation, Centers Heath Care, stepped up as buyers. Concerned that the potential new owner would not recognize their union contract Good Sam and Kenwood members held meetings, rallies, press conferences, and an informational picket to let Centers know that their 1199SEIU collective bargaining agreement would not be undermined. Workers were clear that they would not put patient care at risk by aggravating short staffing and losing experienced caregivers. Teneisha Addison, a CNA at Good Sam for the last six years, was emotional during a January press conference held by Good Sam and Kenwood workers. “We care about our residents; we care about our jobs. It’s really sad,” Addison tearfully explained. “It’s the residents that I’m really concerned

about; they paid their money to be here and they can’t even get what they need.” “And, we have families,” she added. “I have a husband who’s sick and needs medical attention, and we can’t afford to pay medical bills if we don’t have insurance. I have no choice other than looking for another job now.” The message fell on deaf ears. In a bankruptcy court motion, both Centers and TLCN requested that the workers’ contract be gutted ahead of any purchase. With the bankruptcy judge about to decide the future of the facilities and their jobs, TLCN workers realized they needed to speak louder and took a leap of faith. Somewhat reluctantly, they voted in January to send a 10-day strike notice. Pushing the envelope worked and within a few days, Centers Health Care came back to the bargaining table. At press time, negotiations were under way, with workers prepared for tough, critical bargaining ahead of them. Rita Hyman, a CNA at Kenwood Manor, remains cautiously hopeful in the stressful situation. “It’s a headache every day, when you look at the residents’ faces and think of your family,” she said. “Some days you feel caught between a rock and a hard place.” Good Samaritan and Kenwood Manor workers are not alone in their fight. “That’s a great thing about being in a union. Our story is here in the Albany

 Lauren Malic earned her RN with help from the 1199 Training Fund after relocating to Miami after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

area, but there are 1199 caregivers who work at Centers facilities throughout the state and we have a lot in common. We all count on the wages and benefits negotiated in our contracts, because we need to take care of our families at the same time we care for our residents,” said Hyman. John Makoyi, a licensed practical nurse at Good Sam, has been an outspoken leader about the impact of TLCN’s bankruptcy. “Our fight is for all of us—for every caregiver, every resident, and every family who could be jeopardized by employers like The Lutheran Care Network or the Centers, who see profit and the bottom line before they see the human faces of long-term care,” affirmed Makovi. “Whether we are in New York City, Albany, the Hudson Valley or Buffalo, we can’t allow Centers, or any other employer to lower the standards we have fought so hard for and won and to put greed before quality care.”

“ Our fight is for all of us—for every caregiver, every resident, and every family.”

 Institutions owned by The Lutheran Care Network were up for sale, leaving workers with an uncertain future— including loss of their health care— but they recently forced a potential buyer back to the negotiating table.

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GUN STORIES Members share their experiences with gun violence and the ways they are fighting back and healing.

Every day, local and national news outlets churn out stories about guns and gun violence across America. From big cities like Chicago and New York, to small towns in the Midwest and Southeast, there is no corner of the nation untouched by gun violence and the debate around gun rights. According to the Giffords Law Center, 100 Americans are killed with guns every day and over 1.2 million people have been shot in the last decade. United States gun culture and related legislation are a patchwork quilt of stringencies, ranging from deep background checks to open carry laws. High-profile mass shootings and the vocal movement to address police shootings in our Black and Brown communities have prompted 12

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national debates about regulation, systemic racism, and street violence. 1199 has consistently been at the forefront of the movements calling for safer communities, an end to police violence, and common-sense gun laws that respect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners. In the U.S., gun ownership is rooted in the Second Amendment, but even the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld some limitations, including certain bans on concealed weapons and the sale of firearms to specific groups of people. Still, gun rights and gun ownership are a central facet of America’s national identity. Though most Americans support stricter gun laws, legislation banning certain types of weapons has been consistently scuttled, and the

debate rages on in state houses and capitals across the country. Generally speaking, gun stories follow the news cycle. After a tragedy, we’re inundated with heartbreaking victim profiles, calls for systemic change, and reports of loss and trauma. But for many, including many 1199 members, these experiences are part of their daily landscape. Too many of us live in weary, neglected communities. Muted by the debate around rights and policy are the stories of everyday working people who endure shocking loss while caring for loved ones and advocating for change. 1199 Magazine asked some of our members to share with us how guns and gun violence have affected their lives. These are some of their stories.

Caregiver, Healer, Mother

Robert Kirkham Photo

Dorinda MacDougald considers herself lucky. Her son Kevin was 25 when he was shot in the hip in an East Buffalo drive-by. Discharged to his family’s care, the six-foot-tall-and-250-pound young man needed around-theclock care by MacDougald and her daughters. Kevin eventually walked again, thanks in no small part to his caregiver mother’s experience and determination. His friend, wounded in the same shooting, was shot in the neck and paralyzed. MacDougald says it was hard watching Kevin struggle with the trauma and aftermath. “You know they just don’t want to go to therapy. He wanted to tough it out, even though he was reliving it day after day,” she says. The experience turned her into an activist. “We have meetings where I talk to people. I go speak with young people. I tell them they have to stop this stupid ‘no snitching’ where the community doesn’t tell the police after a crime,” she says. “I understand because the community doesn’t trust the police,” she continues. “Our 1199 Political Action Fund is a big part of making change here. I have started meeting with politicians and helped re-educate police officers about how to treat people. I’ve helped set up meet-and-greets where officers can get a chance to meet with the community and listen.”

“I Just Want To Know if He Called Out for His Momma.” Catherine Jefferson picked her son’s body up from the morgue on Dec. 23, 2019. It would have been his 38th birthday. Jefferson has been a CNA at Vista Manor in Titusville, FL for 23 years. And recently the hard work caught up with her, putting her out on disability. At the same time, her son Eric was released from prison, after serving time on drug charges. Eric was living in a halfway house when he got permission to stay with Jefferson and help take care of her. On Dec. 18, Eric headed out for a doctor’s appointment. A few hours later the police were at Jefferson’s door, telling her that her son’s body had been found with a gunshot wound to the head. “I called his dad, who lives in Atlanta, and told him and then I just started walking down the road. Just walking and walking. I collapsed, and my other son found me.” Jefferson says her son was a

good guy who would go out of his way to help friends and strangers alike. “He had been selling drugs, but he turned his life around. He was working one job and trying to get a second one. He wanted to be there for his kids. He wanted to get his life together for them,” she says. Some days, Jefferson just sits in Eric’s room, wondering how it all happened. She thinks old associates lured her sond to his death. “I just want to know if he called out for his momma,” she says, taking a long pause. Gathering herself, Jefferson sounds resolute in her promise to help other mothers and ensure they never have to know her pain. “We need to talk more about how we are losing our kids. There is so much senseless killing of our children. I know some families are scared to speak out because of retribution, but if we keep hiding this killing of our sons and daughters is just going to go on and on. We need to stand up for them because this needs to stop.”

“ We have meetings where I talk to people. I go speak with young people. I tell them they have to stop this stupid ‘no snitching’ where the community doesn’t tell the police after a crime.”

1199 Magazine 13

GUN STORIES “There Wasn’t Enough Time To Scream” “I absolutely disagree with having [guns] in homes. I don’t want them anywhere around me. I have seen what can happen when there is a gun around in the middle of a conflict,” says Angelette Harley, a cook at Titusville Rehab in Titusville, FL. Harley has endured the murder of several family members. She was a witness to a shooting at a restaurant she managed, where a long-running dispute between two co-workers took a deadly turn. “He walked in and shot [her]. It was like time stopped. You see the gun. You see her. You see the person with the gun. Your brain is going ‘this isn’t going to happen.’ There’s almost not enough time to process everything that’s going on. People asked me why I didn’t scream, but there wasn’t enough time to scream.” Harley says she went right into “manager mode,” protecting customers and warning nearby establishments about what occurred. “Your adrenaline doesn’t stop in a moment. It took me years to understand what happened,” she says. Harley eventually had to testify against the shooter, who is now on Florida’s death row. Harley’s strong faith has helped her find compassion for the victim and the shooter. “So often you see people like this, who are not getting any kind of help. They’re not getting any kind of medication. [The state] knows they are out there and then when this happens, they throw them onto death row. So many lives are wasted.”

“I absolutely disagree with having [guns] in homes. I don’t want them anywhere around me. I have seen what can happen when there is a gun around in the middle of a conflict.” 14

January-February 2020

Gun Safety, Not Gun Restrictions

The Healing Power of Music Nathan Leuking, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Washington, D.C.’s Department of Behavioral Health School Mental Health Division, at Anacostia High School. Leuking introduced a groundbreaking music therapy program at the school to help kids deal with trauma, including gun violence. “I developed a music therapy program that uses a psychodynamic therapy and audio recording that allows students to access rap, singing, or spoken word to express themselves as opposed to traditional talk therapy.” Students who participate in the program, which attracts mostly boys and a not-insignificant number of LGBTQ kids, have an hour of traditional therapy every week and then work with Leuking on their rap compositions. Leuking is a musician and knows the healing power of music and the creative process. Kids make their own, original rap and spoken word recordings

using a studio Leuking initially put together using his own equipment. (Since its inception, the program has received funding for expansion to several other schools.) “You just need a computer, a microphone, some space and not much else,” says Leuking. He’s seen first-hand the program’s benefits; kids gain access to feelings they might not have had words for. “It’s traditional that if you lose someone, you come in and do a song for them. We have some of the toughest guys in the school in the program. Talk therapy can be very limiting and not appealing to high school students. They’re a lot more excited to do rap or music or something that is fun and more socially acceptable. It gives them a permission structure to process some very deep stuff. If you listen to rap, the lyrics are often about some pretty heavy-duty stuff. Kids might not be able to talk about trauma around their friends, but if they rap about it and play it for their friends suddenly, they’re seen as cool. It’s a bridge to acceptance.”

“Organizations Like 1199 Can Play a Big Role in Changing Things” Keith Jenkins, a CNA at Caring Family Rehab in Far Rockaway, NY, says he grew up in a stable, loving family, but the streets were hard to resist. “I saw a lot growing up, but the one that got me was when my cousin was killed in a dice game. I never expected it,” says Jenkins. When his son was born in 1996, Jenkins decided to give up the street in favor of fatherhood. “I vowed that my son would not be a product of his environment. I vowed that I would be in his life 24/7.” Jenkins, who was 19 when he first became a father, says that parents have to take their roles seriously and not worry about being overbearing. “Fathers in particular need to be involved 1000%, and I promise you that if we had more of that in every family, we would have less gun violence.” Jenkins is 43 now, and the father of two sons and three daughters; he’s a Member Political Organizer (MPO) working in Long Island. “I think organizations like 1199 can play a big role in changing things. Look at how many members we have. If we can put these messages out there about change and what’s possible in our communities, just think what we can do.”

Dimitri Dauphin is a cook’s aide at Northwell Plainview and an MPO working on Long Island. To put distance between him and the gang violence in his native North Miami, his mother sent him to New York when he was a teenager. “Growing up in Florida, guns were always looked at [as normal]. We went hunting. Guns were a normal thing to have. I see them in a different light now,” he says. Dauphin was deeply affected by murder of his best friend in a drive-by shooting at the age of 16. “I remember feeling the need for revenge,” he says, adding that he considers himself lucky to be alive. “I’m a relic back home,” he says. Despite his experience, Dauphin believes that lawabiding citizens have a right to own a gun, and the standard debate around gun legislation is often misguided. “Criminals don’t buy guns from gun stores. They buy them on street corners and from the back of trucks,” he points out. “People often carry guns because there are other people with guns who want to shoot them.” Dauphin supports background checks, but balks at laws limiting the availability of firearms to law-abiding citizens. “As far as restricting calibers and kind of guns, I think it’s nonsense. Yes. It’s true that a lot of the wrong people are getting guns, but that should not stop regular, everyday citizens who feel the need to protect themselves from getting a gun if they want one.”

1199 Magazine 15


It’s Tax Time! 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 (EITC). The EITC is a tax refund for lowto-moderate income families. Since its inception in 1999, the program has helped members in NYC alone file for $100 million dollars in tax refunds. The program works with professional tax preparers to help members prepare their taxes and is free of charge. Below is what you’ll need to file for the EITC and site locations, dates and times. Call the listed numbers for more information.

• 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 2019, 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

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) 9069887 or use the VITA Site Locator Tool at www.IRS.gov/Individuals/ Find-a-Location-for-Free-TaxPrep to locate your nearest VITA site and find hours of operation and contact numbers. Maryland Baltimore January 28 - April 15 611 North Eutaw Street Tuesday to Thursday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and Monday: Closed *No walk-ins or drop offs. Call (443) 449-2019 to make an appointment.


January-February 2020

Massachusetts January 29 - April 15 Springfield 1199SEIU Office 20 Maple Street Mondays: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Fridays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Quincy 1199SEIU Office 108 Myrtle Street, First Fl. Wednesdays: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (617) 284-1188 to make an appointment. Upstate New York Buffalo January 27 - April 15 2421 Main Street, Suite 100 Monday to Thursday: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call (716) 982-0540 to make an appointment.

Carthage March 7 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Carthage Area Hospital Call (315) 287-9013, ext. 11 to make an appointment. Gouverneur February 1 - April 4 93 E. Main Street Monday and Thursday: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call (315) 287-9013, ext. 11 to make an appointment. Plattsburgh February 14 -16 Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, 1199SEIU Office Call (315) 287-9013, ext. 11 to make an appointment. Rochester January 28 - April 15 1199SEIU Office 259 Monroe Ave, Suite 220 Tuesdays and Thursdays: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. *Please note that the first Tuesday at this location is March 3rd.

Strong Memorial Hospital 601 Elmwood Ave. February 4 - 25 Tuesdays in February: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Call (585) 730-6433 to make an appointment. Syracuse January 27 - April 15 250 S. Clinton St. Monday - Thursday: 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call (315) 295-1822 to make an appointment. Downstate New York and New Jersey Members in New Jersey and downstate New York, including New York City, Westchester County and Long Island can go to www.1199SEIUBenefits.org/ EITC for information about EITC tax free preparation site locations, their hours of operation, and contact information. Other resources and information are available on the NBF website.


All Washed Away

But Her Dreams Florida member survived Hurricane Katrina and went on to become a Registered Nurse.

When Lauren Malic was a little girl growing up in New Orleans, her dream was to become a nurse. Years later, she never lost sight of her dream, even after her family lost everything in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ripped the roof off their home. They relocated to Florida, Malic enrolled in nursing school and got a job as a transporter at UHealth Tower in Miami. But money was still tight. “All I could afford was my car insurance and food,” said Malic. “I had no financial aid, so I had to cover most of the cost of school.” And then Malic decided to join 1199SEIU. A union representative told her about the 1199SEIU Training Fund and encouraged her to apply. Malic calls the moment a game changer. “I got reimbursed for my classes,” said Malic. “I am so thankful. I don’t know what I would have done without assistance from the training program.” After earning her nursing degree, Malic could have applied for a job at another hospital, but says she wanted to stay at UHealth Tower. She was inspired by the nurses she met when she first started working at the hospital as a transporter taking patients around the facility. “I got to see the great work the nurses do daily. This motivated me to go to school to become a Registered

 Lauren Malic earned her RN with help from the 1199 Training Fund after relocating to Miami after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Nurse,” explained Malic. Malic works in the cardiology medical surgical department. She encourages her colleagues to join 1199SEIU so they can have a voice on the job, bargain together for a good contract, and have the opportunity to utilize the training fund so they can fulfill their dream just like she did. “We should all come together as a team through our union,” declared Malic. “Workers have more power when they unite. It’s awesome what we can accomplish through our union.”

“ I got to see the great work the nurses do daily. This motivated me to go to school to become a registered nurse.” 1199 Magazine 17


 1199 International Latino Caucus members Juan Alonzo and Danisha Marrero helped raise money for hurricane and earthquake disaster relief in Puerto Rico.

UNION’S LATINO CAUCUS RESPONDS TO THOSE IN NEED Efforts to aid Puerto Rico and those closer to home are central to Caucus mission. As Puerto Rico recovers from a swarm of earthquakes that have crippled the island as it just beginning to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, members of 1199’s Latino Caucus are mobilizing to send aid to the hobbled territory and raise awareness around the issues facing Puerto Rico and other Latin countries. The 1199 International Latino Caucus is part of the Union’s larger program that includes the Women’s Caucus, People with Disabilities Caucus, AFRAM, the Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus, and the LGBTQ caucus. Reflecting 1199’s core value of solidarity, caucus groups welcome all members, regardless of race, ethnicity, or ability. The International Latino Caucus—like the broader Union—represents the global Latin diaspora and has noticeably expanded recently, with large contingents showing out at the Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Venezuelan Day Parades in New York City. 1199 has a long history of celebrating Latino and Hispanic pride and standing with 18

January-February 2020

movements representing Latino and Hispanic workers: 1199ers stood with California Farmworkers and their leader Caesar Chavez in their fight for justice; union members were and are vocal opponents of U.S. intervention in Central and South America; union members have been on the front lines of the battle for justice in the current immigration crisis; and 1199ers have, of course, stood with Puerto Rico, whether it’s in disaster recovery or the fight against the U.S. military’s interference in Vieques. Juan Alonzo, a litigation specialist with New York City’s Legal Aid Society, says joining the Latino Caucus was a natural extension of his trade unionism and community activism. Alonzo, who is Puerto Rican and Dominican, was a Community Board member in his uptown Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. An established Dominican neighborhood, Washington Heights has been undergoing a recent wave of gentrification and struggles with

“In society we are labeled as minorities, but in so many places we are the majority and we need to have a voice in what happens in our communities and in policies that affect us.”

re-zoning that opponents say will displace many long-time, mostly Latino, residents and their families. “Everything I do is part of the work of the caucus,” says Alonzo, referring to the need for Latino representation in local politics. “In society we are labeled as minorities, but in so many places we are the majority and we need to have a voice in what happens in our communities and in policies that affect us. We have to make sure we have a seat at the table so we can make sure all Latino people are represented.” Alonzo and his Union sisters and brothers in the Latino Caucus recently oversaw two recent initiatives to help raise money for Puerto Rico and lend a hand more locally by distributing school backpacks and supplies to underprivileged kids in the Bronx. “A lot of these kids live in shelters,” says Alonzo. “I felt it was a way for us to give back and expand our network by going out into the community.” In early January, officials from 1199’s sister union in Puerto Rico sent a letter of thanks to 1199’s rank-and-filers and officers for their efforts on behalf of Puerto Rico. “We are deeply grateful for your solidarity and prompt response to our request for assistance our members,” wrote UGT President Gerson Guzman Lopez and Secretary Treasurer Myrnalee Lamboy Rivera. The officers acknowledged the food, water, blankets, pillows, and other essentials sent from 1199ers to disaster-affected Puerto Ricans. In the interim, 1199 members have continued to raise funds through events and a wildly popular drawing for Marc Anthony concert tickets. (At press time, this drawing is scheduled for early February.) “We have a lot of struggles as Latinos, but the work we do is not just about Latinos, it’s about showing that we can work together—especially to help people in need,” says Caucus member Danisha Marrero, a Certified Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in Manhattan. “Our caucus is like 1199 as a whole. We represent people who come from different cultures and have different beliefs, but we come together, and we show how much we can do together. We’re like an airport, with many airlines going in a lot of directions, but our hub is 1199.”

EL COMITÉ DE LATINOS DE LA UNIÓN RESPONDE A LOS NECESITADOS Esfuerzos de ayuda a Puerto Rico y a los que están más cerca de casa son la esencia de la misión del comité. Mientras Puerto Rico se recupera de una cadena de terremotos que ha paralizado la isla cuando apenas empezaba a recuperarse de la devastación del huracán María, los miembros del Comité Latino de 1199 se están movilizando para enviar ayuda al tan afectado territorio y están creando conciencia acerca de los problemas que enfrentan Puerto Rico y otros países latinos. El Comité Internacional de Latinos de 1199 es parte del programa mayor de la Unión que incluye el Comité de Mujeres, el Comité de Personas con Discapacidades, AFRAM, el Comité de Asiáticos Americanos e Isleños del Pacífico y el Comité LGBTQ. Reflejando el valor fundamental de solidaridad de 1199, los comités dan la bienvenida a todos los miembros sin importar su raza, etnicidad o habilidad. El Comité Internacional de Latinos al igual que la Unión en su totalidad representa la diáspora global latina y se ha expandido recientemente de una manera notable, con grandes contingentes participando en los desfiles puertorriqueños, dominicanos, panameños y venezolanos de la ciudad de Nueva York. La 1199 tiene una amplia historia de celebrar el orgullo latino e hispano y de apoyar movimientos que representan a los trabajadores latinos

e hispanos: Los miembros de la 1199 apoyaron a los trabajadores agrícolas de California y a su líder César Chávez en su lucha por la justicia; los miembros de la Unión han sido y son voceros de la oposición a la intervención americana en América Central y del Sur; los miembros de la Unión han encabezado la lucha por la justicia en la presente crisis inmigratoria; los miembros de 1199 por supuesto que han apoyado a Puerto Rico ya sea en la recuperación de un desastre o luchando contra la interferencia militar estadounidense en Vieques. Juan Alonzo, un especialista en litigio de la Asociación de Asistencia Legal, dice que hacerse parte del Comité Latino fue una extensión natural de su labor sindical y activismo comunitario. Alonzo, quien es puertorriqueño y dominicano, era miembro del comité comunitario en su vecindario de Washington Heights en el alto Manhattan. Un vecindario dominicano, Washington Heights ha recibido recientemente una ola de gentrificación y batallas de rezonificación, que los oponentes dicen desplazará a los residentes con más antigüedad, principalmente latinos y sus familias. “Todo lo que hago es parte del trabajo del comité”, dice Alonzo, re-

“En la sociedad estamos etiquetados como minorías, pero en muchos lugares somos la mayoría y necesitamos tener una voz en lo que pasa en nuestras comunidades y en las políticas que nos afectan”

 Miembros del Comité Latino de la Unión recientemente supervisaron dos iniciativas para reunir dinero para Puerto Rico y para a nivel local, distribuir mochilas y materiales escolares a los niños no privilegiados del Bronx.

firiéndose a la necesidad de la representación latina en la política local. “En la sociedad estamos etiquetados como minoría, pero en muchos lugares somos la mayoría y necesitamos tener una voz en lo que pasa en nuestras comunidades y en las políticas que nos afectan. Tenemos que asegurarnos un asiento en la mesa para asegurarnos que la gente latina esté representada”. Alonzo y sus hermanas y hermanos del Comité Latino de la Unión recientemente supervisaron dos iniciativas para reunir dinero para Puerto Rico y para a nivel local, distribuir mochilas y materiales escolares a los niños no privilegiados del Bronx. “Muchos de estos niños viven en refugios”, dice Alonzo. “Yo sentí que fue una manera de corresponder y extender nuestra red al ir a nuestra comunidad”. Al comienzo de enero, dirigentes de la Unión hermana de 1199 en Puerto Rico enviaron una carta de agradecimiento a los líderes y membresía de la 1199 por sus esfuerzos a favor de Puerto Rico. “Estamos profundamente agradecidos por su solidaridad y oportuna respuesta a nuestra petición de asistencia a nuestros miembros”, escribió el presidente de la UGT Gerson Guzmán López y la tesorera Myrnalee Lamboy Rivera. Los dirigentes agradecieron la comida, agua, cobijas, almohadas y otros productos de primera necesidad que los miembros de 1199 enviaron a los puertorriqueños afectados por el desastre. Entretanto los miembros de 1199 han continuado recaudando fondos a través de eventos y la ampliamente popular rifa de boletos para el concierto de Marc Anthony. (El sorteo se ha programado, al cierre de esta edición, para principios de febrero.) “Como latinos tenemos muchas batallas por luchar, pero el trabajo que hacemos no es nada más para los latinos, es para mostrar que podemos trabajar juntos, especialmente para ayudar a gente necesitada”, dice Danesha Marrero, miembro del comité, quien es consejera certificada en abuso de alcohol y drogas en Mount Sinai Beth Israel en Manhattan. “Nuestro comité es como la 1199 en su totalidad. Representamos gente que viene de diferentes culturas y que tienen diferentes creencias, pero estamos unidos y demostramos todo lo que podemos hacer juntos. Somos como un aeropuerto, muchas compañías aéreas yendo hacia muchas direcciones diferentes, pero nuestro centro es 1199”.

1199 Magazine 19

Preparing Our

Leaders for Today and Tomorrow

Reinvigorated program supports new and experienced delegates alike.


January-February 2020

Delegates are 1199’s backbone. Without a force of specially trained, dedicated members in 1199-represented institutions, the union would not be able to negotiate and enforce contracts, grieve labor law violations and uphold our hard-won standards, benefits, and salaries—some of which are the best in the health and social service industry. Keeping delegates at the top of their game requires an ongoing investment in training to make sure new delegates know the ropes and long-standing delegates stay up to date. The constant drumbeat of anti-union propaganda in the country at large has meant that many younger members do not enter the Union with a consciousness of what collective bargaining means for them, and more broadly, the entire working class. The Union’s Education Department is committed to giving delegates all the tools they need to be effective in their roles—whether that be representing members during a grievance or informing members about contract negotiations and encouraging them to take part. And to that end, the department has recalibrated 1199’s Delegate Training Program, implementing new materials and methods that reflect new demographics entering the workforce, relationships with burgeoning social


 Delegates from Whitman-Walker Health at a recent training in Washington, D.C.

“As a union member, it is important to continue to keep your foot on the gas pedal. Never lift that foot up. You can’t take the pressure off for the things you want.” – Camille Benbow

 Delegates from D.C.: (Top to bottom) WhitmanWalker Health workers Kelli Jenkins, Camille Benbow, and Raul Hernandez.

movements, and current pedagogical philosophy. So far, 950 delegates from downstate New York, the Hudson Valley, and Maryland/D.C. have taken part in the recalibrated delegate training program. At least another 1,100 are due to join the program in the coming months. Graduation ceremonies will be taking place around the region in February and March. The classes, which are conducted by regional staff in collaboration with the Union’s Education Department, emphasize interactive learning and role play to prepare delegates for real-life situations. Instructors employ a popular education model in which participants draw lessons from their personal experiences. Among the subjects that were covered in the curriculum were labor history, politics, social justice, public speaking, the role of leaders in the workplace and workplace organizing projects. At a recent meeting, graduates say that the classes spoke directly to current issues, exploring topics as wide ranging as the increased attacks on labor, the rollback of social and economic gains, the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter. In the Maryland/DC region, members from Whitman-Walker Health, a nonprofit community health center in Washington, D.C. with a special expertise in HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ health care, participated in a delegate training session earlier this month. The classes employed methods and language geared toward today’s younger workers. Camille Benbow, a Peer Ambassador at the clinic who took part, recalled the organizing drive that brought Whitman-Walker workers into the union: “Everyone came together as a collective because they were simply tired of being overworked and underpaid. “As a union member, it is important to continue to keep your foot on the gas pedal. Never lift that foot up. You can’t take the pressure off for the things you want. You just must keep fighting. You’ll get what you want in the end.” Client Services Representative, Raul Hernandez, said the training taught him how different forms of retaliation for union activity could take place without members realizing it was happening. Referral Coordinator Jisanet Gonzalez shared how the classes deepened her understanding of the meaning of leadership. “I realized that once you become a leader, you have to have that hat on all the time. You must make sure you respect everyone, but it’s not just here; it’s also outside. And when people see that they are comfortable, they feel safe to either listen to you or follow you or look up to you.” 1199 Magazine 21



BLACK FREEDOM STRUGGLE 1199 was one of first unions to celebrate Negro History Week



From its inception, the leftwing founders of 1199 allied themselves with the struggle of African Americans for social and economic equality. The founding pharmacy workers, most of whom were Jewish, were themselves victims of discrimination. Due in part to the anti-Semitic quota system in medical schools, many Jews settled for the pharmacy profession. In the 1930s, 1199 launched a successful campaign in Harlem to pressure drugstores to hire African American pharmacists and promote Black porters to the position of soda­ men. One of those porters, Theodore Mitchell, became the Union’s first African-American officer. In 1949, 1199 Pres. Leon Davis credited Harlem members with saving the Union. During “red scare” attacks by the federal government and raids by an opposing union, the North Har-

January-February 2020

lem Pharmaceutical Association, led by 1199er Howard Reckling, shut down a hundred drugstores to prevent them from being certified by the hostile union. Reckling went on to lead the National Pharmaceutical Association. He and other Harlem pharmacists in the same period hid Davis and 1199 Treasurer Eddie Ayash at the Harlem YMCA to delay the serving of a subpoena. The African American pharmacists refused to show up for work until the owners signed with 1199. 1199 declared that real progress could not be achieved for all without eliminating the whole vicious system of white supremacy. To that end, a centerpiece of 1199’s organization and mobilization has always been underscoring the connection between union rights and civil rights. To this day, members are encouraged to participate in political and civic ac-

tivities and contribute to labor and social justice campaigns. In 1960, members and staff picketed Woolworth’s stores in New York City to protest lunch-counter segregation at the chain’s southern stores. Others participated in the historic Freedom Rides. Culture was also central. Activist artists Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee often performed during Negro History Week celebrations. They and fellow artists dramatized civil rights events, such as the Montgomery bus boycott at which Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to prominence Dr. King was a frequent visitor to 1199 headquarters. Few communicated as brilliantly the unbreakable ties between the economic and social struggles of working people. He said of 1199’s historic 1959 hospital strike, “It is more than a fight for union rights, it is a fight for human rights and human dignity.” Dr. King stood with 1199 during the strikes for recognition at Beth El (now Brookdale) and Manhattan Eye and Ear hospitals in 1962. That campaign led to collective bargaining rights for New York City voluntary hospital workers. A victory rally just days after the settlement reflected 1199’s influence and foreshadowed the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom the next year. Among the organizers of the rally were Bayard Rustin, who with labor titan A. Phillip Randolph, was a principal architect of the 1963 March. Randolph and Roy Wilkins, leader of the NAACP and a 1963 March speaker, addressed the 1199 rally. Dr. King was a scheduled speaker but was unable to attend. Another speaker, Malcolm

Union-chartered train. They saw firsthand that their Union demands were in step with those of the Civil-Rights Movement. Members returned from the March committed to apply the lessons of history by making history. Their immediate task was to win collective bargaining rights for all voluntary hospital workers in New York State with a campaign called “Operation First-Class Citizenship.” The first target was Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, NY. The national and local civil rights leaders who aided 1199 in New York City also assisted the Lawrence campaign. After a 55-day strike and on the eve of a planned civil rights march, the legislature agreed to extend collective bargaining to the entire state. Though Union wouldn’t win a contract at Lawrence for another 37 years, workers persisted in the struggle for justice at the hospital, with leaders like sisters Marion and Mary Beavers walking Lawrence picketlines in 1965 and

X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz), in his only known union address, praised Leon Davis for his willingness to go to jail rather than call off the strike. The following August, some 1,000 members of the Union arrived to the March on Washington on a

again in 2002, as leaders of the contract campaign. Throughout the turbulent decades of the 1960s, the members joined Dr. King and other civil rights leaders at marches in the South, including the 1965 voting-rights march in Selma,


 Malcolm X speaking at an 1199 rally in 1963; it was his only address to a labor union.  Ruby Dee at an 1199 “Salute To Freedom” celebration.

Ossie Davis in 1965 addressing striking workers at Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, NY.

Alabama. 1199’s blue and white paper caps became a much-sought-after symbol of justice and equality. The 1960s ended with a highly publicized protracted fight in the Deep South. In 1969, some 450 workers at the Medical College Hospital of the University of South Carolina (MCH) and the smaller Charleston County Hospital struck for three months for 1199 recognition and protection. The strikers, led by MCH nurse’s aide Mary Moultrie, were all low-paid African Americans and 90 percent were women. They were inspired by the presence of Coretta Scott King, the honorary chairperson of the Union’s national organizing campaign. The workers never won Union recognition, but the struggle led to significant changes in Charleston and the campaign helped 1199 establish a beachhead in the South. One year later, the “Union Power. Soul Power” campaign organized nearly 6,000 workers at six hospitals in Baltimore. 1199 has remained faithful to its progressive roots, hewing to Dr. King’s example with his teachings as its North Star. On March 10, 1968, less than a month before his assassination, Dr. King addressed 1199’s annual “Salute to Freedom” celebration and declared: “I’m often disenchanted with some segments of the power structure of the labor movement. But in these moments of disenchantment, I begin to think of Unions like Local 1199 and it gives me renewed courage and vigor to carry on.” Dr. King added, “I’ve been with 1199 so many times in the past that I consider myself a fellow 1199er.” 1199ers returned from Washington in 1963 determined to make history and have done so, leading 1199 in the struggles for equality, peace, justice, solidarity and more. Lillian Hicks was a student nurse at Atlanta’s Grady Hospital when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born there. At the time of Dr. King’s death, she was an 1199 delegate and LPN at New York City’s Hospital for Joint Diseases. She reflected the sentiments of 1199 when she said, “Knowing Dr. King has made me more determined to be a better human being.”

1199 Magazine 23

Dr. King’s Favorite Union 1199ers at Strong Memorial Medical Center in Rochester, NY held their annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 20. The 39th annual event included poetry, music, dance, and the recitation of some of Dr. King’s most famous words. MLK famously referred to 1199 as “my favorite union” in a historic 1968 speech in New York City.

Robert Kirkham Photo

1199 Magazine 24

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