1199SEIU members from Long Island to Buffalo participated in the 43rd Annual Legislative Conference of the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators on February 14-16. This year’s theme was Reclaiming Our Sons & Our Daughters, “speaking volumes of our commitment to re-engage Legislators, businesses and our constituencies statewide to reclaim our children, especially in light of childhood obesity; low graduation rates, and the loss of the Trayvon Martins of America,” according to Chairwoman,Crystal Peoples-Stokes. The annual event raises scholarship funds for the educational advancement of African-American, Hispanic, and other minority youth. Tamoya Norwood, an 1199SEIU delegate at Vassar Brothers Medical Center brought her 2-month-old infant to the event. Holding the baby close in front of a Martin Luther King, Jr. banner, she said, “I’m proud to be at the conference and staff the table. You’re never too young to start learning about your history, social justice and activism.”

The Capital’s Empire State Plaza was filled with hundreds of tables of information and engaging conversation. Among them were 1199SEIU members and organizers who staffed the Healthcare Education Project (HEP) booth and were well received by the crowd. HEP is a collaborative initiative of 1199SEIU and the Greater New York Hospital Association. The HEP mission closely parallels the theme of the conference weekend: protecting and expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare for all New Yorkers and focusing on building partnerships with individuals, local healthcare providers, and civic and religious leaders in neighborhoods across the state.

Those who stopped by the HEP table received important information about protecting and preserving quality long term care options, especially in the not-for-profit sector, which is critical to providing innovative quality care to New York’s frail and elderly residents. Also available were newsletters detailing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) rollout in New York.

1199 President George Gresham was honored with an “Outstanding Labor Leader Proclamation” at a special Labor Breakfast hosted by NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on the first Saturday morning of the 3-day conference. The declaration proclaims 
"that State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli does hereby congratulate and applaud George Gresham for his outstanding service; and be it further PROCLAIMED, that on this 15th day of February, two thousand fourteen, Comptroller DiNapoli does join with the people of New York in thanking George Gresham, and wishing him continued happiness and success."