Working in the healthcare profession, many 1199ers continued to battle the effects of COVID-19 in their institutions throughout 2021 despite the arrival of the vaccine early in the year. After being loudly praised as heroes in 2020, many also faced tough battles with management at the bargaining table to preserve their wages and benefits. But as 1199SEIU members have done for more than six decades now, they showed their strength across all our regions by standing together.
1. Planned Parenthood – NY 1199ers at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY) – joined by prominent elected officials -- staged informational pickets at four clinics across New York City in January.
The action came after management proposed givebacks to the workers health plan just as the devastating second wave of COVID-19 was taking hold around the city. In the end, after many months at the table, members won a healthcare cost guarantee along with wage increases in April.
5. ARPA premium pay – Massachusetts After many months of campaigning by 1199ers in Massachusetts, the state’s healthcare provider, MassHealth, agreed to hazard pay for Personal Care Attendants (who do home care work) amounting to a 10% wage increase for the year beginning on July 1, 2021. The wage boost was paid for with federal money distributed under the American Rescue Plan Act.
9. League victory – NY After months of virtual negotiation and a strike vote, 1199ers negotiating with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes secured another strong 3-year master contract in September, which serves as the gold standard for the entire union. This agreement covers 90,000 members and maintains some of the best wages and benefits in the country.
13. Phil Murphy – New Jersey New Jersey 1199ers secured the re-election of Gov. Phil Murphy in an extremely tight race in November, becoming the first Democrat in nearly half a century to achieve this feat. Under Gov. Murphy’s tenure and through the political strength of 1199 members, New Jersey has enacted some of the most consequential reforms for the nursing home industry in the nation, including a safe staffing ratio bill, a path to an $18 minimum wage for CNAs, and a law requiring employers to spend at least 90% of their revenue on direct care.
2. Highland Park – Upstate After a labor dispute that lasted almost two and a half years, and involving multiple worker protests, including a 3-day strike, members at Highland Park Nursing Home in Wellsville, NY, voted to ratify their first union contract in February. The 3-year contract includes a 6.75% wage increase and members will now receive sick and personal days, and increased employer-provided contributions to their retirement.
6. Better Care, Better Jobs Act rally – NY Hundreds of homecare members held a rally in City Hall Park in NYC in July to press Congress to pass the Better Care Better Jobs Act legislation, which paved the way for the Build Back Better bill, which would provide billions of federal dollars towards increasing wages and benefits for home care workers. At press time the US Senate was due to vote on the final bill.
10. Nuvance Victory – Hudson Valley, NY The Connecticut-based Nuvance Health agreed a one-year contract extender with members at Vassar Brothers Medical Center, Putnam Hospital and Vassar Diagnostics Laboratory in October – including 3% raises and maintaining the 1199 healthcare, pension, training and job security funds. Nuvance also agreed to a contract reopener early next year to negotiate Juneteenth as an additional premium holiday. The agreement paves the way for members in four new Nuvance bargaining units, who have been bargaining for more than a year, to settle their first contract with Nuvance.
14. Nursing Home victory – NY Union members from the 249 institutions in the Greater New York and the “Group of 65” nursing homes settled a three-year contract on the brink of the largest 1199 strike in 30 years. Hard won gains include Juneteenth as an additional paid holiday, a $1,500 bonus, and a process to get full coverage for those members who aren’t currently in the funds. At press time, the contract was due to be ratified in December.
3. Invest in Quality Care – NY Decades of campaigning for laws aimed at improving staffing levels in nursing homes culminated in a major political victory in April. That’s when 1199 nursing home members in New York State celebrated the passage of the strongest staffing legislation in the nation.
7. Hometown Heroes Parade – NY New York State Attorney General leads the healthy 1199 contingent at the Hometown Heroes ticker tape parade in New York City in July to celebrate the enormous contribution of essential workers during the height of the pandemic.
11. Michelle Wu – Massachusetts Thanks in no small part to energetic canvassing by Massachusetts members, Michelle Wu won her election to be the new Mayor of Boston in November. Michelle Wu has worked tirelessly as a City Councilor to seek better healthcare, childcare, higher pay and better working conditions for workers who need that help– and have been ignored for far too long.
4. Stop Asian Hate Rally – NY 1199ers filled the streets of Chinatown in May to stand in solidarity with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders facing a shocking rise in racist attacks. Actor Danny Glover and civil rights activist, Al Sharpton, were among the speakers.
8. Voting Rights – Maryland/DC Union members from across the Maryland/DC region participated in the “March On For Voting Rights” rally and march in Washington, DC in August.
12. Consulate Victory – Florida After months of negotiations with Florida’s largest nursing home operator, Consulate Health Care, 1199ers won a landmark contract, including hazard pay, higher minimums, annual raises and successorship language to protect them if the facility is sold.