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A Journal of 1199SEIU July-August 2021

Our History: Labor Day We Support Haiti

NYC Stop & Frisk Reform Rally

No Way To Treat Our Heroes Eighteen months into COVID, caregivers are still fighting for dignity and respect.

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August-September 2021


CONTENTS

Healthcare workers risked it all to save the country. Management needs to stop playing with our lives.

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5 The President’s Column We strongly recommend the COVID vaccine.

14 Cover: 1199 homecare workers rallied and marched in support of the Better Care Better Jobs Act at a July 13 Day of Action in NYC. See story on page 18.

@1199seiu www.1199seiu.org 2

1199 Magazine July-August 2021 Vol. 39 No.4 ISSN 2474-7009 Published by 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East 498 Seventh Ave, New York, NY 10018 (212) 582-1890 www.1199seiu.org

Editorial: No Way to Treat Our Heroes

August-September 2021

6 Around the Regions Keep your information at the 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union up-todate; we support Haiti; Florida members hold vigils for Cuba; NYC 1199ers demand Stop & Frisk reforms; and more.

10 League Talks Kick Off We’re the heroes in this fight. 12 Parade of Heroes NYC honors its essential workers. 14 The Work We Do Wesley Gardens nursing home in Rochester, NY. 17 Florida RN Balances Activism and Self Care Deb Montgomery specializes in helping new moms.

18 Better Care. Better Jobs. National Day of Action supports homecare workers. 20 MDDC Juneteenth Event Workers mark holiday with an action for fair pay and benefits. 21 We Are Essential, So Treat Us Like Heroes Florida workers launch campaign. 22 Our History 1199’s Bread and Roses Labor Day celebration highlighted worker culture.

For more than 18 months, healthcare workers have led America through the COVID-19 pandemic. First, in March 2020, during the darkest days of the onset, the faces of weary caregivers lit the way to hope and to a time after the pandemic. And as the country fell into lockdown silence, it was the steady but exhausted, voices of healthcare workers that reminded us there was a way forward. And again now, as the delta variant rages among the unvaccinated and hospital beds are filling up and stretching caregivers to the breaking point, it is our healthcare workers who are doing the work of education, connection, and community building to help reduce vaccine hesitance and save lives. For the last year-and-a-half, along with sirens and the cries of the sick and bereaved, the word hero rang through the national conversation. Everywhere, every day, a television talking head reminded us—those who needed no reminder—that healthcare workers are heroes and how very, very grateful we should be to them all. There were photo ops and camera glare. Scrubs became the new superhero uniform. While the sentiment was appreciated, it wasn’t news. Caring is and always has been our superpower. The lives we save each day are a testament to that. We don’t need capes or letters on our chests. But what we do need is to be able to pay the rent, feed our kids, or keep the lights on. While we were have been lauded as heroes and showered with confetti and nightly applause, we have been fighting. Fighting exhaustion. Fighting to stay alive. Fighting for the lives of our loved ones afflicted with COVID. Fighting to educate our communities. And fighting the longstanding systemic inequities that are keeping people Albert Tercero from getting life-saving healthcare and vaccinations. We’ve also been fighting for basic personal protective equipment, hazard pay, and legislation and resources to secure our jobs and industries so the healthcare services are there for the future generations who will undoubtedly need them. Too often, we’re fighting management. In New York State, hundreds of thousands of hospital and nursing home workers are fighting for fair contracts. In addition to the Group and Greater nursing home negotiations, 1199ers are bargaining for our “gold standard” agreement with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes. Both sets of talks opened with employers crying poverty—nothing

president

George Gresham secretary treasurer

Maria Castaneda executive vice presidents

Jacqueline Alleyne Yvonne Armstrong Lisa Brown Tim Foley Patrick Forde Todd Hobler Antonio Howell Maria Kercado Brian Morse Joyce Neil Rona Shapiro Milly Silva Gregory Speller Veronica TurnerBiggs Nadine Williamson editor

Patricia Kenney director of photography

Jim Tynan art direction and design

Maiarelli Studio cover photo

Jim Tynan contributors

Regina Heimbruch JJ Johnson Erin Rojas Yvonne Slosarski Desiree Taylor Kim Wessels Sarah Wilson

Caring is our superpower. The lives we save each day are a testament to that. We don’t need capes or letters on our chests.

new in this very new COVID world. Still, it’s hard not to be dismayed at such a display of callousness toward the very people who risked their lives to keep their institutions functioning day during one of the darkest chapters in modern American history. So, you know what? We’re going to keep fighting. We’re not going to let any caregiver be nickeled and dimed or disrespected. We’re going to make sure that every boss everywhere knows that this is no way to treat our heroes.

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 498 Seventh Ave, New York, NY 10018 Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to 1199 Magazine, 498 Seventh Ave, New York, NY 10018

1199 Magazine 3


Letters & Social Media GET VACCINATED, NOT FIRED, SAYS 1199 RETIREE he COVID vaccines available in the U.S. are safe and effective. When the vaccines first came out early in the year, many people were concerned about side effects. But now we know so much more. There are over 150 million in the U.S. alone who have gotten the vaccine without any problems. Some, like myself, had a mildly sore arm for a couple of hours after the shot but serious side effects are extremely rare—much less common than for common medications like antibiotics or even aspirin. False stories about dangers of the vaccine are being spread by some Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and right-wing media. Most of these are the same ones spreading the big lie that Trump won the election. Then, there are our friends and relatives who get a post, an email or YouTube clip, and pass it along without checking the source. These false rumors are literally killing people. Emergency rooms and intensive care units around the country are filling up again with people sick with COVID— almost all of them unvaccinated. 1199ers will be on the front lines and among the most vulnerable. If you are unvaccinated, you are much more likely to get infected and infect others close to you. If you are unvaccinated and get infected, you are much more likely than those vaccinated to get very sick or even die. Even worse, until almost everyone is vaccinated, the virus has time to mutate and become a greater threat than the delta variant, now tearing through the country. One major hospital system in New York announced that employees will have to get vaccinated to keep their jobs. The national VA system has done the same. Instead of the boss forcing us to do what we should do anyway, let’s use our power to insist it be done the right way. For example, the union should work with management to arrange small meetings on company time to allow all employees to ask questions and get the true facts about the vaccine and all COVID issues. On-site vaccinations should be organized during work time to help those with difficult schedules. The very small number of workers with documented, valid medical reasons that prohibit vaccination should be given jobs where they can be masked and stay apart from patients and other staff. Many years ago, before there were laws against indoor smoking, many workers smoked on the job. When my institution banned indoor smoking, union members who were chain smokers were afraid they would lose their jobs and asked us to file grievances to allow them to smoke as a “past practice.” Our chapter delegate body refused. The smoking was a danger to other union members as well as the smokers themselves. It took a lot of conversations and education, but eventually it became clear that a ban on indoor smoking made sense, and the right thing to do was to help members quit smoking. Vaccinations are similar: they make sense and will help protect everyone, provided everyone participates. But with the right-wing media campaign against vaccination misleading too many of us, we need to continue talking to one another and sharing the facts about vaccines. I, for one, think vaccines should be mandatory. I know others disagree, but what we can agree on is that no one should lose their job, and it’s incumbent on us all to do the right thing.

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Hillel Cohen, DrPH Retiree, NYC 4

July-August 2021

If you are unvaccinated and get infected, you are much more likely than those vaccinated to get very sick or even die.

We Strongly Recommend the COVID Vaccine We are all together in the battle against COVID-19. 1199SEIU UNITED HEALTHCARE WORKERS EAST: Yesterday, the Labor Movement lost a giant in the passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Here’s a statement from President Gresham on President Trumka’s impact on the national Labor Movement. “1199SEIU mourns the passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. We send our deepest condolences to his loved ones. President Trumka was a third generation mine worker who dedicated his life to the labor movement. We honor him and his lifelong fight for dignity and respect for all working people.”

The President’s Column by George Gresham

1199SEIU MASSACHUSETTS: The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 expands the Child Tax Credit for tax year 2021 only. Taxpayers may receive part of their credit in 2021 before filing their 2021 tax return. Learn more at www.irs.gov/ childtaxcredit2021 La Ley del Plan de Rescate Estadounidenses de 2021 amplía el Crédito tributario por hijos solo para el 2021. Los contribuyentes pueden recibir parte de su crédito en 2021 antes de presentar impuestos de 2021. www.irs.gov/ creditoporhijos2021

Let’s hear from you. Send your letters to: 1199 Magazine, 498 7th Ave. 24th fl. New York, NY 10018, Attn: 1199 Magazine, Editor; or email them to magazine@1199. org. Please put “Letters” in the subject line of your email.

@1199SEIUFlorida: Here’s one of this year’s Incredibles of Healthcare winners. It’s our way of our saying thank you to Elizabeth Rorie and all of our healthcare heroes for the great work you all do every day to care for patients. #WeCareForFL

For anyone with concerns about risks and side-effects of the vaccines, we strongly recommend that you speak to your doctor… That said, we also know that some members have health or religious exemptions or other reasons for not taking the vaccines. All of you are valued 1199SEIU members and we represent you all.

I know that I speak for the entire 1199SEIU family when I say that we have never in our lifetimes faced a challenge like we’ve faced these past 18 months with the COVID-19 pandemic. As a New Yorker, I will never forget the weeks when the country’s largest city shut down completely. There wasn’t a sound on the streets day or night—except the sirens of ambulances and other emergency vehicles. At the same time, refrigerator trucks stacked up in front of our hospitals and nursing homes, serving as temporary morgues. I’m sure so many of you have your own grim memories, wherever you work and live. We all wore masks and other PPE (when they became available) and socially distanced, knowing that this biggest public health emergency in 100 years would never end until a COVID-19 vaccine was found and made available to everyone. Now— after nearly four million COVID cases and over 620,000 deaths—we finally have vaccines. This is good news indeed, especially now that COVID-19 cases and deaths are again beginning to rise with the emergence of the delta variant, which is even more contagious than the standard coronavirus. Throughout the country, the delta variant accounts for more 70 percent of new cases. We are, of course, all human beings with families and loved ones. We’re also dedicated healthcare workers caring for our patients and clients. So, a vaccine that can eradicate this terrible disease is something to not only welcome, but to support. Do vaccines work? Of course, they do. Because vaccines virtually eliminated several other dreaded diseases in the United States, many people are completely unfamiliar with smallpox, polio, diphtheria, tetanus,

and other severe illnesses. Even before COVID, proof of vaccination was a matter of course for some travel abroad and to register for school. These steps helped wipe out disease. So indeed, it is wonderful that we now have effective COVID vaccines that are readily available and without cost. The bad news is that only about two-thirds of us in the United States have had at least one shot of the twodose vaccination. And in many states and among certain sectors of the population, the figures are much lower. Broadly speaking, only half the people in our country are fully vaccinated. Recently, Los Angeles and other cities started to re-mask. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) followed up with a recommendation that vaccinated people in certain parts of the country wear masks indoors. The thing that makes the COVID-19 so dangerous is that you can have it but not have any symptoms and still spread it to dozens of people, some of whom will die. (Even some vaccinated people have contracted COVID, but few have had serious illness, let alone died, as a result.) In the meantime, many people are resisting getting vaccinated. A major reason for this resistance is a sustained campaign by far-right media personalities and political figures who say that the government’s effort to convince people to vaccinate is an infringement of their personal freedoms. But in the face of the biggest public health emergency in a century, it’s actually the government’s responsibility to safeguard the population. Years ago, there was great resistance to government’s laws against smoking indoors in public spaces to protect people from cancercausing secondhand smoke. Now it is widely accepted as common sense. The

same is true with mandating seat belts in automobiles: now we know that seat belts save lives. Freedom is not the same as individual preference—not when it endangers others. Make no mistake, COVID-19 vaccines save lives. Yale University epidemiologist Alston Galvalone estimates that in the first six months of this year of vaccine availability, 279,000 lives were saved, and 1.25 million hospitalizations were prevented in the United States. At the same time, virtually all new coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. involve the unvaccinated. As CDC director, Dr. Rachel Walensky says, we now have “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” For those who are concerned that the vaccines come with a risk, consider that the risk of not being vaccinated may mean severe illness or death. For anyone with concerns about risks and side-effects of the vaccines, we strongly recommend that you speak to your doctor. It might help to know that, according to the American Medical Association, more than 96 percent of all physicians in the United States are fully vaccinated. That said, we also know that some members have health or religious exemptions or other reasons for not taking the vaccines. All of you are valued 1199SEIU members and we represent every one of you. Our Union strongly recommends the vaccine, and we urge employers to continue taking all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of patients and members, including the provision of proper PPE, continued education, and through regular COVID testing. As in every struggle, we are one union, and we are all together in this battle against COVID-19.

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

Around the Regions

NEW YORK

In NYS Senate Testimony, LTC Workers Describe an Industry in Crisis A delegation of 1199SEIU homecare and nursing home members travelled to New York State’s Capitol in Albany, NY on July 27 to give State Senators a first-hand account of the crisis facing workers and patients in New York’s long term care sector—and offer practical solutions for resolving it. “Before the pandemic we had a lot of vacancies, and now it’s worse. Staff work double shifts, come back to work after catching some sleep, and then can be faced with another double. It’s

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July-August 2021

brutal, and people are getting hurt,” Tonya Blackshear, an 1199 CNA from Utica told the Joint Public Hearing on Nursing Home, Assisted Living and Homecare Workforce, which was convened by New York State Senators Rachel May (D-53), Gustavo Rivera (D-33) and Jessica Ramos (D-13). A recent report from the City University of New York (CUNY) estimates that 17 percent of home care jobs are currently unfilled and approximately 26,510 new aides need to be hired annually just to keep up with the growing demand

for care. In Upstate New York in particular, the wages in nursing homes and home care agencies are often so low that people can earn more working in the fast food industry or by stocking shelves in a supermarket. “I’d like to work with just one agency, but you really can’t. We are constantly looking for those extra hours we need to get by. I’m usually working for more than one agency at a time and doing per diem work where I can find it,” explained Jason Brooks, an 1199 PCA from Rochester. “There are lots of reasons

why home care workers left during the pandemic, but the biggest reason is the pay did not justify the risks they faced. Fortunately, most stayed because they are incredibly dedicated to the people they care for,” testified Rona Shapiro, 1199SEIU Executive Vice President for Home Care. “Home care workers did not have the luxury of staying in hotels or taking an Uber to work. They continued to get on the subway and buses to get to their clients’ homes and many got sick despite their best efforts to protect themselves,” added Shapiro. “During the pandemic I refused to stay home, knowing my patient needs me and I wanted to be able to provide for my family,” Lilieth Clacken, a home health worker for two major NYC agencies. “My patient cannot be left alone, the importance of me being there is undoubtedly the key to her living a dignified life.” “There are two paths ahead,” Shapiro told the hearing panel. “One is to build a system of wellresourced, union agencies and fiscal intermediaries, which make the investments necessary to recruit and retain dedicated home care workers. The other is to continue to allow profiteers to siphon off desperately needed care dollars to their own pockets.”

“I ’d like to work with just one agency, but you really can’t. We are constantly looking for those extra hours we need to get by.” – Jason Brooks, PCA, Rochester, NY

NEW YORK

Florida 1199ers Rally To Support Cuban Freedom & Fairness Members 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East rallied in Miami July 16 to show unity with Cuban citizens demanding freedom and fairness after decades of government tyranny, violence and corruption. Caregivers and other staff at Kendall Regional Medical Center

marched, displayed signs and chanted support for brave Cubans who have taken to the streets calling for basic living needs and government reform. “We’re excited that our brothers and sisters are speaking up across Cuba to demand what is right. The violent and brutal response of the Cuban government is not surprising, but still

very sad. Our message to the Cuban people is to stay strong and know that we are with you,” said Joaquin Garcia, an X-ray technician at Kendall Regional. “No citizens—here in the U.S., in Cuba, in Haiti, or anywhere around the world—should live in fear of their governments, their leaders or their police. Governments should do all they can to protect and help their citizens prosper safely and freely.” The Kendall rally of 1199SEIU caregivers drew beeps of approval from rush-hour passersby. “Freedom for Cuba, ital patria y vida !” cheered Ivianne Cartamil, waving both American and Cuban flags. Cartamil is a registered nurse in the hospital’s intensive care unit. “So many of our members are Cuban, Haitian and from other countries with governments that oppress and victimize their people. That’s a big reason why they’re here in the U.S., seeking freedom and opportunity,” said Dale Ewart, 1199SEIU executive vice president. “No matter where we’re from, we all feel this pain, but also the hope for change and better days to come. That is what our union is about: freedom, security and prosperity for our hardworking members and families.”

 Caregivers and other staff at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami held an action July 16 in support of Cubans who have taken to the streets calling for government reform.

“The violent and brutal response of the Cuban government is not surprising, but still very sad. Our message to the Cuban people is to stay strong and know that we are with you.” – Joaquin Garcia, x-ray technician, Kendall Regional Medical Center

Saving for A Rainy Day? Visit the 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union! At a July 27 hearing, 1199SEIU long-term care workers told a NYS Senate panel how the alreadystruggling sector has been pushed to the brink by the pandemic. 

Do you have an account with 1199’s Federal Credit Union? Make sure your account information is up to date. The 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union (1199SEIUFCU) offers 1199ers a wide array of financial services, including checking and savings accounts, a holiday club, car loans,

home mortgages, and more. The 1199SEIUFCU also offers online banking and free ATM services at more than 55,000 Allpoint locations. For more information, or to learn how to open an account, go to www.1199federalcu.org, call (212)957-1055, or email memberservices@1199fcu.org. 1199 Magazine 7


Around the Regions

Did You Forget Your 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union Account? Money in abandoned or dormant accounts is scheduled to be turned over to New York State.

 1199ers joined a July 29 rally in lower Manhattan demanding that the NYPD enact court-ordered reforms to its stop and frisk policy.

Need To Know More About COVID-19 and the Vaccines? NEW YORK

New Yorkers to de Blasio & NYPD: Reform Stop & Frisk Now 1199ers were among the scores who rallied in lower Manhattan on July 29 demanding that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) enact long-promised reforms to their stop and frisk policy. The event was organized by Communities United for Police Reform. Eight years ago, in a landmark decision, a federal judge found the NYPD liable for a pattern of unconstitutional racial profiling and stops. Black and Latino New Yorkers constituted the overwhelming majority of NYPD stop-and-frisks. Following the decision, the NYPD, New York City, and community stakeholders began mapping out a series of reforms. The people of New York City are still waiting—even as 8

July-August 2021

statistics show that Black and LatinX neighborhoods are consistently subjected to most police stops and continued over policing. 1199SEIU VP Onika Shepherd was among the events speakers and emphasized that even the pandemic didn’t suppress the racist harassment of stop and frisk. “We are tired of waiting. We are tired of seeing our children and brothers and sisters in Black and LatinX communities harassed. We are tired of the injustice and the inequality,” said Shepherd. “Even during the height of the pandemic—when New Yorkers were staying home to help save lives—we continue to see Black and Brown New Yorkers subjected to a more stops and harsher policing.” For more information visit www.changethenypd.org.

Check out the latest edition of 1199’s weekly newsletter, Frontline News, at 1199seiu.org/frontlinenews.

Are you a member of the 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union? It’s vital to keep your share accounts with the 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union active. New York State law requires all financial institutions to report any account that is considered dormant or inactive to be turned ove as abandoned property. Any account that has been without activity for three years is considered inactive. We are required by law to publish this list of dormant account holders. A report of these unclaimed funds will also be sent to the New York State Comptroller. Listed persons appear to be entitled to these funds. The full list is on file and available for public inspection at the 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union, located on the 2nd floor of at 498 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. Held amounts of funds will be paid to proven, entitled parties by the 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union through October 31, 2021. Remaining unclaimed funds will be turned over to the New York State Comptroller’s Office on or before November 10, 2021. For more information visit the 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union or call (212) 957-1055.

Deslyn Daniel 258 Lawrence St., Uniondale, NY 11553-1006

Ivory Jefferson 127 West 119 St., BMS, New York, NY 10026

Rochelle A. Forehand 346 Beach 48th St., Far Rockaway, NY 11691-1121

Tonnie Carvellas 1600 Sedgwick Ave, 14G, Bronx, NY 10453-6606

Nancy J. Liberius 18 Willowbrook CT Staten Island NY 10302-2402

Deborah M. Reynolds 122-20 Grayson St., Springfield Gardens, NY 11413-1040

Luner S Graham 3410 Dereimer Ave, 13L, Bronx, NY 10475

Sandra E. Sabal-Drakeford 5 East 93rd St. Apt A-332 Brooklyn NY 11212

Nicauris A. Astacio 681 W 193rd St, Apt 5B, New York NY 10040-2737

Joyce G Beckford 282 East 35th St., Apt 3C, Brooklyn, NY 11203

Matthew J. Mazzola 537 Ovington Ave, Apt 4A, Brooklyn, NY 11209-1741

Magda Dale 1469 Cotton St. Reading, PA 19602-2144

Lu-Ann Madden 75W End Ave, Inwood, NY, 110961540

Annette George 2123 Dean St., Brooklyn, NY 112334001

Etta M. Dugbo 31 Bush Ave, Staten Island, NY 10303-2213

Zulma I. Quiles 765 Courtlandt Ave, #1A, Bronx, NY 10451

Kareen Santana 1431 Dean St., Brooklyn, NY 112131503

Grace A. Boakye 4240 Hutchinson River Pkwy E, Apt 7G, Bronx, NY 10475-4763

Dianne L. Lum 114-51 170th St., Jamaica, NY 11434

Nadine Z. Mcpherson-Richards 18415 143rd Ave, Springfld Gdns, NY 11413-3020

Janet N Mckitty-Mclean 2050 Tillotson Ave, 1st Fl, Bronx, NY 10475-1560

Desrine Elizabeth Evans Ruiz 107-12 171st St., Jamaica, NY 11433

Lawrence Oheneasa 24 Randolph St., Yonkers, NY 10705-2321

Rubena Daley-Jordine 919 East 224 St., Bronx, NY 10466 Milagros Gonzalez 952 42nd St., Apt 2A, Brooklyn, NY 11219 Lottie P. Simms 52 West Sidney Ave, 1st Fl, Mount Vernon, NY 10550-5900 Linda A. Ruiz 131-16 Rockaway Bch Blvd, 4C, Far Rockaway, NY 11694 Robens Joseph 3626 Kings Highway, Apt 5A, Brooklyn, NY 11234 John Boateng 200 East 18 St., Apt# 2J, Brooklyn, NY 11226 Laurie A. Turner 119 Warwick Rd, Elmont, NY 110031427 Orleen P. Johnson 1578 Sterling Pl., Apt 4D, Brooklyn, NY 11213 Wilda Joseph 1788 Bedford Ave, #C21 , Brooklyn, NY, 11225 David Mahon 307 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238 Abdur-Bahim M Salahuddin 113 Union Ave, New Rochelle, NY 10801-6239 Peter Oliver 225 East 106th St., Apt #20-C, New York, NY 10029

We Support Haiti To read our full statement on the recent upheaval in Haiti, visit 1199SEIU.org.

Patrice Pitter 674 E 149th St., Apt 8-K, Bronx, NY 10455

Paula Steele 941 Washington Ave, #5F, Brooklyn, NY 11225 Vanessa E. Jones 100 Debs Place, Apt#21E, Bronx, NY 10475 Titilay E. Ogunmuko 18 Henrietta St., Yonkers, NY 10701 Gloria Bryant 1559 Lincoln Pl., Brooklyn, NY 11233 Madeleine Almonor 147 High Park Ave, Stratford, CT 06615-5669 Stephen Massey 101 Larkspur Ln, Spartanburg, SC 29301-5456 Debbie Hewitt 5115 N Socrum Loop Rd, Apt 69, Lakeland, FL 33809-4214 Jasmin D. Kearns 5 West 107th St., New York, NY 10025 Curt A. Thompson 481 E 51st St, Apt 2R, Brooklyn, NY 11203-4548 Iona D. Charlton 305 Thomas Boyland St., Brooklyn, NY 11233-4718 Reshma T. Smith 4220 Hutchinson River Pkwy E, Apt 9B, Bronx, NY 10475-4740 Annabelle R. Heckler 838 Park Pl, Apt 3W, Brooklyn, NY 11216-6519

Addly Tercius 1063 Mcbride St., Apt 1, Far Rockaway, NY 11691-2416 Evette V. Forbes 865 Cauldwell Ave, Apt 1A, Bronx, NY 10456-7627 Avril Edwards 2505 Ave D, Brooklyn, NY 11226-7705 Marie Marthe K. Auguste 688 Pennsylvania Ave, Apt 2F, Brooklyn, NY 11207-6907 Esther J. ViCToria 76 Morningside Dr, Ossining, NY 10562-3109 Berenice Rodriguez 2155 Grand Concourse, Apt 5K, Bronx, NY 10453-2238 Ester D. Sando 180 Park Hill Ave, Apt 6E, Staten Island, NY 10304-4708 Kula Fahnbulleh 180 Parkhill Ave,. Staten Island, NY 10304-4714 Celenia Batista 90-36 149th St., Apt 1F, Jamaica, NY 11435-3941 Deolal Sahabir 11412 128th St South, Ozone Park, NY 11420-2128 Shannelle K. Taylor 10120 Ave K, Brooklyn, NY 11236

Janet R. Nelson 568 E 83rd St., Brooklyn, NY 11236-3115 1199 Magazine 9


CONTRACTS

1199ers to League Bosses:

This Is No Way to Treat Our Heroes

“To them, we are only numbers on a chart, not the heroes they put up on billboards.” – Theresa Gatling a clerical worker at Northwell Health Care at Home

Despite management disrespect, League members are united around goals of protecting pensions, healthcare, and wages. “We all know the impact that COVID19 has had on healthcare. But I will tell you that it is 1199ers who have fought for our institutions even before the pandemic. We have always been the backbone of our institutions.” – Gina Torres, a radiological technologist at Wyckoff Hospital Center in Brooklyn.

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In early July, 1199SEIU members and the League of Voluntary Hospital and Homes kicked off negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Union members entered negotiations expecting challenges, but also with the hope that their unprecedented contributions during the pandemic would set the tone for collaborative and productive talks. “We put our lives on the line every day. We are healthcare workers—frontline healthcare workers—and we didn’t have the luxury of quarantine,” said Christopher Rogers, a CNA at Archcare at Ferncliff Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center. “It’s time that we are recognized for the heroes we are.” So far, management, led by League representative Marc Kramer, has yet to do that in any meaningful way. Bosses have made clear that while the bargaining sessions may be virtual, their disrespect and dismissiveness are anything but. On August 11, after four rounds of talks and nearly a month after receiving the Union’s proposals, management had yet to offer counter proposals or address in any significant way workers’ concerns around wages, health care and pensions. 1199SEIU President George Gresham was resolute during the bargaining session. “It sounds to me like you are not convinced that we need a fair and

July-August 2021

decent contract,” Gresham declared to management’s bargaining committee. “We want you to know that we don’t want to strike, but we will if we have to. And if we keep going this way, we are not going to end up with a contract, we are going to end up with a strike.” 1199’s agreement with the League is the “gold standard” among the Union’s CBAs. And this contract, as much as any in recent memory, demonstrates why. League hospital and nursing home members were the first line of defense in the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic’s first wave. They are among the hundreds of thousands 1199 caregivers across New York State who risked (and in many instances gave) their lives day in and day out to protect and care for gravely ill patients. From the beginning of bargaining, management has talked out of both sides of their mouth—singing the praises of “hero” caregivers while crying poverty and telegraphing their intentions to give as little as possible to the very workers who have long sustained their hospitals and nursing homes. Weary, incredulous 1199ers slammed a management presentation portraying empty coffers and the dismal state of healthcare. More than anything, the bosses’ PowerPoint evidenced their unwillingness to settle the fair and decent contract

caregivers deserve. “We all know the impact that COVID-19 has had on healthcare,” said negotiating committee member Gina Torres, a radiological technologist at Wyckoff Hospital Center in Brooklyn. “But I will tell you that it is 1199ers who have fought for our institutions even before the pandemic. We have always been the backbone of our institutions.” Throughout negotiations, bosses have asserted that their pension and benefit contributions are above “normal.” Management has repeatedly tried to dodge responsibility to workers, instead shifting blame to state and federal governments and health insurance companies —and even the IRS—for their inability to keep promises. Bosses also contended that workers who do the vital work of precepting new employees are simply providing basic information, like directions to the bathrooms, and are continuing to push back on benefit improvements for workers at off-sites.

 Bad Luck for The Bosses: On Friday the 13th, workers at Staten Island’s Richmond University Medical Center walked in on management with a petition demanding a fair contract now. The event was part of a League-wide day of action.

clerical worker at Northwell Health Care at Home. If management thought they were going to weaken workers’ resolve with acrimony and scorn, they were mistaken. Their contempt has only served to strengthen 1199ers’ unity. Throughout August, workers planned a robust calendar of actions—from sticker days to walk ins on the boss— leading up to Aug. 26 informational picketing at scores of institutions. If management doesn’t mean business in these negotiations, workers are prepared to show them that they do. “They didn’t come here to negotiate,” said South Oaks negotiating committee member Charlene Coleman. “They came here to pacify us.” Theresa Gatling was clear that workers are fully prepared to show management that their tactics won’t work. “We are ready,” she said. “And on Aug. 26 we [are going to] get our members out on that informational picket line by any means necessary.”

Workers aren’t buying it. Negotiating Committee Member Theresa Gatling reminded her 1199 family that management’s stance amounts to classic union busting. “To them, we are only numbers on a chart, not the heroes they put on billboards,” says Gatling, a 1199 Magazine 11


OUR MEMBERS

NYC HOSTS

Hometown Heroes Parade

New York State Attorney General Letitia James (bottom, right) walked with 1199’s contingent at the July 7 Hometown Heroes Parade celebrating New York’s essential workers. The event drew thousands of revelers and included 14 floats representing 250 organizations.

Essential workers are recognized with a tickertape parade up Broadway.

“They deserve to be celebrated in every way— with a parade and with fair contracts that honor their work and contribution to New York.” 12

New York City loves a party. And on July 7, the city held a big one with a parade honoring the essential workers who sacrificed so much caring for the city that became the “epicenter of the epicenter” for the COVID-19 pandemic. The procession up the famed “Canyon of Heroes,” as Broadway in lower Manhattan is often called, included scores of unions and organizations, and thousands of the essential workers who led New York City through the darkest days of the pandemic. They marched in groups, with bands, and rode on floats. (Some 14 floats represented 260 organizations.) Wilting heat and humidity didn’t dampen spirits. Colorful clouds of confetti burst from cannons as tickertape danced overhead. Revelers cheered on numerous drummers, sound trucks and pipe bands. And of course, purple t-shirts were everywhere to be seen on the parade route. Contingents of 1199ers dotted every block, cheering on their fellow heroes. “We really were the unsung heroes during the pandemic,” said Roxanne Cook-Cornelius, a lab worker at Interfaith Hospital in

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Brooklyn. “I changed my shift to the nightshift because of the volume of work. We were doing lab tests around the clock.” “Healthcare workers were—and continue to be—the backbone of the city during the pandemic and as we make progress putting it behind us,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “They deserve to be celebrated in every way—with a parade and with fair contracts that

honor their work and contribution to New York.” In remarks to NY-1 News, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed Gresham, noting the significance of the moment on many levels. “This was the biggest crisis in the history of New York City. These are the folks who were the heroes,” said de Blasio. “They’re everyday working people. They don’t often get the accolades they deserve.” 1199 Magazine 13


THE WORK WE DO:

1. “I worked in long-term care for 13 years and then went to the rehab unit. It’s totally different and very satisfying bringing patients back to their baseline,” says Marcella Taylor, a CNA at Wesley Gardens for 22 years. Taylor views their re-opening and getting vaccinations with cautious relief. She chose to get vaccinated and is glad she did. “In the beginning it was scary—you hear so much about both sides,” she says. “But I have an elderly mother and children and grandkids. I wanted to protect myself and my residents.”

Wesley Gardens 1

At Wesley Gardens nursing home in Rochester, NY, 1199ers care for a broad range of patients—from seniors on a memory care unit to young adults in physical rehabilitation. As at nursing care facilities across the country, Wesley Gardens workers struggled during the pandemic. They were and remain dedicated to keeping themselves and their residents safe. Though some became sick or had to care for family members affected by COVID-19, Wesley Gardens workers persevered. They came to work every day and cared for the residents who need them, Today, as vaccination numbers go up and New York State is re-opening, Wesley Gardens workers can welcome visitors back in the facility, while continuing to be vigilant about safety and protection. 1199 Magazine visited Wesley Gardens recently to talk with workers about their work and their experiences moving through the pandemic. 14

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2. Katherine Bell has been a CNA at Wesley Gardens since March. Before then she worked as a home health aide. Bell loved that work, but says she prefers

working with a larger staff and more patients. “People don’t know how much we do every day,” she says. “They think we are just here to wipe people’s butts, but to do this work you need to be a loving, caring person. You need to want to help people. There’s so much more to what we do every day than people see from the outside.” 3. “I enjoy talking to the elderly people. I know that this is someone’s parent I am taking care of, and if it were your parent, you would want the same things. We did a lot for them during the pandemic. We provided comfort and conversations to keep everyone going,” says Shawanda Norwood, who works in Wesley Gardens’ Dining Services Dept.

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3 Photos by Bob Kirkham

“I enjoy talking to the elderly people. I know that this is someone’s parent I am taking care of, and if it were your parent, you would want the same things.” – Shawanda Norwood, Dining Services

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OUR MEMBERS

THE WORK WE DO

RN Deb Montgomery Balances Activism and Self Care

“Things are so much better now that everyone is getting vaccinated.” – CNA Kayla Linton

Florida RN specializes in helping new mothers.

4. CNA Kayla Linton (far right), shares a hug with co-worker Rylee Weber, a housekeeper at Wesley Gardens. “The residents are so much happier now. They get to see their family and friends. They can come out of their rooms to socialize and participate in activities,” says Linton. “Things are so much better now that everyone is getting vaccinated.”

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5. Cook Derrick Bigham prepares meals for Wesley Gardens residents.

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6. Natasha Stephens has been a CNA for 21 years and has worked at Wesley Gardens for the last two. Stephens works on the institution’s dementia unit, a job she says is challenging and often emotional: “It can definitely be trying. You have residents you have to monitor very closely,” she says. “But I love them, and I love dancing and playing music with them. Having grandchildren has definitely prepared me for this work.”

RN Deb Montgomery was hired full-time by HCA Palms West Hospital in December 2019 and immediately joined 1199SEIU for the better pay and protections provided as part of a union. She didn’t stop there. The lactation nurse immediately became active as a delegate, signed up to become a member of the 1199SEIU contract bargaining committee, and volunteered to serve as a member political organizer (MPO) for the 2020 election. “I jumped into the deep end right away, because it really takes everyone making an effort every day to protect and fight for our rights,” she says. “If we don’t, we’ll get walked over by our employers or some politicians and others who are driven by unfair power or greed.” Her first year on the job and in 1199SEIU was an historic challenge with months of contentious contract bargaining, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a high-stakes presidential election. These experiences reinforced her conviction that working people must stick together, stay active and focused on building a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities. “Our strength is not just in the numbers, but in not letting up,” she says. She is already looking ahead to the critical 2022 Florida election, especially the races for governor and U.S. Senate, in which voters can replace “cynical and self-serving” politicians Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio. “From bungling the pandemic at every turn, to suppressing and silencing voters, to serving up favors

to big business and gun makers, plus so much more, failed politicians like these two show they don’t care for everyday Floridians,” she says. “We need real leaders who will serve the people, not take advantage of them.” In addition to her leadership on the job, Montgomery has participated in public communication efforts. She authored an opinion column for the Palm Beach Post calling for the Florida Legislature to create a “People’s Budget” that properly funds and protects healthcare workers and patients.

in which caregivers face chronic staffing shortfalls, as well as a lack of hazard pay, adequate benefits and many other necessities. When she’s not fighting for herself and fellow workers, Montgomery exercises, runs or practices yoga daily to fight off burnout and stay balanced. She also enjoys crochet. “They’re all about staying energized and focused, and so is Deb,” says her 1199 organizer, Boston Alexander. “When she starts something, she goes all in.”

“I jumped into the deep end right away…If we don’t, we’ll get walked over by our employers or some politicians and others who are driven by unfair power or greed.”  HCA Palms West RN Deb Montgomery gets her COVID-19 vaccination.

Montgomery earned her nursing degree in 2017 as a divorced, single mom with three children, ages 11, 9, and 7. Her first nursing job was in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach. She moved to Palms West as a per diem nurse for a short period before being hired full-time. She chose her current role and lactation specialty after her experiences breast-feeding her own children. “I breast-fed for more than eight years of my life with three kids, and I saw how little lactation support and expertise was available for new mothers,” she says. She recently assisted in resuscitating and saving the life of a newborn while stepping up to provide coverage in the hospital nursery. It was a gratifying experience, but indicative of staffing shortages throughout the healthcare system. As the sole, full-time lactation nurse at her facility, new breast-feeding mothers were left without support while Montgomery filled in at the nursery. It’s a common situation, she says, 1199 Magazine 17


OUR UNION

1199ers Home Health Workers Rally for Better Care Better Jobs Act Events highlight workers’ dedication and sacrifice during the pandemic.

On July 13, just a week after New York City celebrated its frontline workers with a ticker-tape parade, hundreds of homecare workers marched and rallied in lower Manhattan to call attention to their sacrifice and the need for better pay and support for their industry. The event was part of a nationwide day of action demanding that Congress pass the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which includes a $400 billion investment in homecare. The investment would help create millions of new jobs and expand access to homecare for at least one million families and individuals. With the march, 1199SEIU homecare workers turned the streets around New York City Hall into a sea of purple and threatening rain clouds didn’t dampen spirits or a sense of purpose. Rona Shapiro, 1199SEIU’s Executive Vice President for Homecare, praised the workers’ dedication—even in the face of a pandemic. “You have shown out and shown up, keeping New Yorkers safe,” said Shapiro. Shapiro was joined on the event’s program by 1199SEIU President George Gresham, Congressman Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY), SEIU Vice President Rocio Saenz, and New York 18

July-August 2021

City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “You were there, no matter how tough it was, you showed up,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at a rally held before the march. “We love what we do, but we need to be paid better,” affirmed Lilieth Clacken, a home health aide who works for the Region Care and All Metro agencies. Anna Couch, a home health aide with the Personal Touch agency, urged her 1199 family to see through the fight for Better Care Better Jobs. “We homecare workers have sacrificed a lot and have risked our lives to provide necessary care for our clients during COVID-19,” said Couch. “We homecare workers are essential and demand that we are recognized as such. We deserve to be protected and respected. Si Se Puede!”

Home Health Aide Anna Couch and Congressman Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY) were among the speakers at a July 13 march and rally in New York City calling on Congress to pass the Better Care Batter Jobs Act. The legislation includes a $400 billion investment in the homecare agency. The NYC event was part of a National Day of Action across the country. 1199SEIU home health workers also gathered in Springfield, MA to call attention to the need for better pay and benefits for Personal Care Attendants and other home health workers.

The Better Care Better Jobs Act, which includes a $400 billion investment in homecare. The investment would help create millions of new jobs and expand access to homecare for at least one million families and individuals.

Personal Care Attendants in Massachusetts also rallied that day, demanding better pay and working conditions. The Springfield, MA action was one of 24 sites nationwide where workers made their voices heard. “We bring everything to our job because we take care of consumers,” PCA Minerva LeBron told Springfield’s WWLP. “And we give them more than 100 percent of ourselves.” 1199 Magazine 19


CONTRACTS

OUR MEMBERS

Florida Caregivers Launch Campaign

MDDC 1199ers marked Juneteenth with a contract rally at the home of Lisa Mules, CEO of LifeBridge Vocational Health Services in Baltimore.

“We are essential. Treat us like heroes.”

“A Change Is Gonna Come” To celebrate Juneteenth, workers at Baltimore’s VSP took their yearlong contract fight to the boss’s house. A group of MDDC region workers this year marked Juneteenth with a dramatic action standing up for workers’ rights—and in keeping with the holiday’s spirit of ending oppression. Workers from LifeBridge Health Vocational Services Program (VSP) in Baltimore held rally at the Carol County home of VSP Director Lisa Mules who has for over a year been thwarting VSP workers’ attempts to organize. VSP, a department of Sinai Hospital, provides vocational services for disabled people. According to its website, the 50-year-old organization serves over 300 disabled individuals, who are almost exclusively people of color. On July 3, 2020, VSP workers filed for their first union election. VSP management immediately moved against the workers’ organizing efforts. And since that first election, the workers—most of whom make under $12 an hour—have voted overwhelmingly to join 1199 in three separate elections. Mules and other VSP execs have continued to challenge the workers’ right to a union—even though courts have twice ruled for workers, with a third 20

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“They thought we should be beneath them, when what we want is an equal share.” – Joe Pullen, Cleaner

case still pending at press time. Though VSP describes its mission as offering careers for people with disabilities, executives continue to deny workers’ their basic rights, say VSP staffers. Many, like building worker Wilzona Taylor, have worked at the organization for decades. She says their employer is not living up to its commitments to workers and does not respect basic good practices like adequate scheduling and training. “A lot of us have been working for seven days a week but not receiving the correct pay for working seven days, which is overtime—even though VSP has been well aware that they should have been paying us overtime,” says Taylor, who’s been with VSP for over three decades. “Management changed our shifts [to] from 12 noon to 8 p.m. so we wouldn’t receive the overtime.” Edward Daniels, a cleaner at VSP for 23 years, says their contract fight is also about fair wages and bonuses, advancement opportunities, good retirement, and basic respect. Cleaner Joe Pullen pointed out that VSP recently ended their contributions

to the workers’ retirement plan, causing great anxiety to the staff. None of VSPs actions reflect their mission of rehabilitation, he says. “They claim they are a rehabilitation facility,” he said. “But they don’t post jobs, and they don’t train you for other work, like the property manager position.” So, workers decided to hold a caravan and rally on June 19, a day celebrating Black freedom, at Director Lisa Mules’ house to remind VSP management that fighting workers’ legal right to organize is a form of oppression. “[What’s going on at VSP] makes me think of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where people created Black Wall Street, and [white Tulsa] people were jealous of Black people prospering,” says cleaner Joe Pullen. “They thought we should be beneath them, when what we want is an equal share.” Since the Juneteenth demonstration, workers have been demanding that VSP “Stop the Appeal! Let’s Make a Deal!” Pullen is prepared to stay in the fight for the long haul: “Take it from Mr. Sam Cooke: through our hard work and sweat, ‘A Change is Gonna Come.’”

Long term care workers across Florida who have been on the front lines of the pandemic are uniting through their union, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, to call on government officials and nursing homeowners to better protect and fully fund nursing homes. Through the “We Are Essential, Treat Us Like Heroes” campaign, caregivers are putting a spotlight on these and other critical issues that leave nursing home residents and workers at risk, including unsafe staffing and high turnover due to low wages. “I love my job. That’s why I have been a caregiver for 45 years,” said Blanche Norwood, a CNA at a Miami nursing home. “But it’s getting more and more difficult to be there for each and every resident, because there aren’t enough qualified staff. Many caregivers have left the job because they can’t survive on poverty wages.” The average hourly wage for a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is about $12 per hour. That’s about $25,000 per year—which is less than the federal poverty level for a family of four. “It’s unconscionable that nursing home workers, who put themselves at risk every day during this pandemic to care for loved ones don’t make enough to provide for their own families,” said Roxey Nelson, Vice President and Director of Politics and Strategic Campaigns at 1199SEIU, the largest healthcare union in Florida. “This has a ripple effect, because low wages lead to high turnover, and that impacts staffing levels and ultimately the quality of care.” A new law allowing personal care attendants (PCAs) to stand in the

void for CNAs could make matters worse, says Nelson, because PCAs have inadequate training, and they can’t perform all of the critical tasks that a CNA does. But PCAs still count toward the standard of 2.5 staff per patient. “Wouldn’t you prefer experienced staff caring for your grandmother or parent?” asked Nelson. Short staffing and low wages have been widespread problems in Florida nursing homes long before the pandemic. The health crisis exposed just how critical these issues are and the impact they have on the lives of residents and workers. The

COVID-19 pandemic also revealed how committed, essential and heroic nursing home workers have been through it all, answering the call of duty, despite their risk of exposure to this life-threatening virus. “The name of our campaign – “We Are Essential, Treat Us Like Heroes”—is fitting because these dedicated and brave caregivers deserve both accolades and a living wage so they can take care of their families,” explained Nelson. “As these workers prepare to bargain for new contracts this year, we’re calling on their employers to invest in their employees because quality care starts with caregivers.”

“I love my job, that’s why I have been a caregiver for 45 years. But it’s getting more and more difficult to be there for each and every resident...Many caregivers have left the job because they can’t survive on poverty wages.” – CNA Blanche Norwood

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OUR HISTORY

‘A Good Union Doesn’t Have to be Dull’ 1199 Labor Day Street Fair was launched in 1979.

1979 was the eleventh straight year that New York City’s labor movement had failed to sponsor a Labor Day parade. That year,1199 decided to help fill that void. The Union’s Bread and Roses Program (B&R) hosted the first annual New York Labor Day Street Fair. The idea was to celebrate the achievement of the working class while having fun. “A good union doesn’t have to be dull,” B&R founder and director, Moe Foner, often declared. Some 75,000 New Yorkers flocked to the 1979 daylong event of films, music, comedy, magicians, clowns, jugglers, dancers, healthscreening and a variety of ethnic foods. The activities took place one city block from the Union’s Midtown headquarters. Dozens of members took turns working the booths. Some provided blood pressure tests. Others offered nutrition counselling and some led exercise classes. A central feature of the first and subsequent fairs through the mid 1980s were labor-themed films shown at the Harold Clurman Theatre on West 42nd Street. Films often focused on the struggles of working women, such as “Salt of the Earth,” about 22

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a New Mexico zinc miners’ strike; “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter,” which chronicled women factory workers during WW II, and “Double Day,” about South American women struggling to work while raising families. A highlight of several Fairs was the Bread and Puppet Circus Theater, a Vermont progressive collective whose central principle was that theater should be like bread—a necessity for the sustenance and wellbeing all. At the first Fair, workers from other unions erected booths and exhibited skills such as cutting and making coats, sewing and even bus driving. A group of women of color who were being trained for the construction trades erected the frame of a small house on the street and spoke to Fair goers while they worked. The second Fair in 1980 featured the cast of the wildly popular musical “Take Care,” which grew out of a 14-week series of workshops in which 1199ers discussed the details of their work and home lives. The workshop material was transformed into

songs and sketches by Ossie Davis, Mikki Grant, Eve Merriam, Alan Menken and Lewis Cole. The musical toured forty-five 1199 New York City hospitals. It later made an eleven-state tour and was performed at the U.S. Department of Labor. ‘’We’re proud to present a major public event that celebrates the labor movement,’’ said Foner before the 1981 Fair. ‘’As the only fair sponsored by a labor union, we feel that this year’s event, coming on the 100th anniversary of the founding of America’s first national labor organization—the Knights of Labor in 1881— has special significance to New Yorkers.’’ That year the Fair was moved to Sunday because the city’s Central Labor Council, partly in response to President Ronald Reagan’s vicious assault on the nation’s unions, hosted a Labor Day parade. The Fair continued on Sundays through the mid 1980s. By then, the Labor Day parade had been discontinued as the West Indian Carnival in Brooklyn came to dominate Labor Day festivities. B&R continued to produce

1199ers march in the 1963 New York City Labor Day Parade.

groundbreaking events throughout the years. In a Union where most of the workers rarely had the opportunity to experience live theater and other art forms, those events brought both joy and a deeper understanding to members. The events also built unity by showcasing the art and culture of the Union and the city’s various racial and ethnic groups. “What our union and our members are doing,” 1199 President Leon Davis said at the time, “is merely demonstrating again what most labor leaders know —that the fight for a living wage and decent working conditions is the start of the struggle for all the good things in life.”

The events also had immeasurable publicity and political value. 1199 stood out as an organization that was ahead of its time by pointing the way to the need for a more diverse and inclusive labor movement and by building bridges to the artistic, political and progressive communities. The Union’s relationships and reputation held it in good stead during contract, budget and legislative campaigns. Its use of the various forms of art and culture helped members and allies to understand that the good things in life were rights for everyone, not privileges for the few.

“The fight for a living wage and decent working conditions is the start of the struggle for all the good things in life.” – 1199 President Leon Davis

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The Work We Do Housekeeper Rylee Weber is among the caregivers at Wesley Gardens nursing home in Rochester, NY who helped get residents and staff at the institution through the COVID-19 pandemic. 1199 Magazine visited with Rylee and other 1199ers at Wesley Gardens to hear more about how they’re doing and how they are helping residents (and each other) recover after a traumatic year and half. See story on pages 14-16.

Bob Kirkham Photo

1199 Magazine 24

Profile for 1199SEIU

1199 Magazine | July - August 2021  

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