For the second year running, 1199SEIU is up at Baltimore’s Penn Station. Our billboards celebrating the special legacy of Coretta Scott King in Baltimore are back up on every platform in the station.
In 1969, just a year after her husband’s death, Mrs. King came to Baltimore and helped low-paid caregivers at Johns Hopkins and other local hospitals organize the union in the face of intense opposition from management.
While those ads celebrate the union’s past, they also offer a glimpse of the future as 1199 works to build in the ongoing Heart of Baltimore campaign.
The campaign, launched in 2009 at a citywide conference of healthcare workers, offers a future where better jobs for caregivers lead to better care for patients and a better economy for all.
It is a vision that has won the strong support of the Baltimore City and Baltimore County Councils, both of which unanimously passed resolutions supporting the right of caregivers to unite for a better future without facing the kind of intimidation that workers did back in 1969.
As the Penn Station billboards note, healthcare is now Baltimore’s biggest industry, employing one in five of the city’s workers. Although Mrs. King helped 1199 members at Hopkins and other hospitals and nursing homes to build a better life, far too many healthcare workers in Baltimore still receive poor pay and meager benefits. And when workers in Baltimore’s biggest industry are hurting, it hurts the whole city.
That is a problem that the members of 1199SEIU, Baltimore’s healthcare union, know they have a special responsibility to solve.
In the years after Mrs. King’s courageous visit to Baltimore, the union has been a plucky, self-sustaining local that could win defensive fights for existing members but lacked the resources to reach out and help other caregivers improve their workplaces.
That is why in 2005, union members in Baltimore voted to unite with healthcare workers up and down the East Coast in 1199SEIU. They knew we needed more strength and now have the resources to help caregivers with ambitious campaigns like the Heart of Baltimore.
Since uniting in 1199SEIU in 2005,
- More than 2,000 new members Maryland and D.C have joined.
- In 2007, the union’s Training and Upgrading Fund came to Baltimore, partnering with 26 local employers to provide unprecedented educational opportunities to local 1199 members.
- The union is working on the Maryland state task forces that are implementing healthcare reform, helping to bring the experience and the insights of frontline healthcare workers to the process.
This is the news that is being shared in the Penn Station ads. Just as Penn Station helps knit together the cities of the Eastern seaboard — with more than two million travelers passing through it every year — 1199SEUY is helping to strengthen healthcare up and down the East Coast.