You have Questions? We have answers.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the union, how it works and how our members can participate more effectively in union activities. Don’t see your question below? Head over to our contact us page to get connected with an organizer today!
How do I join 1199SEIU?
Are you currently a healthcare worker looking to join 1199SEIU? Visit our “Join Us” page for more information. Are you looking to work for 1199SEIU? Visit our "Jobs at 1199SEIU" page for the latest employments listings."
What is a union?
An organization of every person who works for the same employer, using their collective strength to prevent management from doing whatever it wants, such as awarding raises arbitrarily or firing workers without cause. Unions are also the way workers make demands on management, such as healthcare coverage, time off, and decent salaries. Learn more
Who is “The Union”?
The union is you — healthcare workers who join together in their workplace to exercise a collective voice. All important decisions in 1199, from voting on contracts to electing union leaders, are made by our members. 1199 is one of the most democratic unions in the United States, and the active involvement of our members is supported and encouraged in all areas of our union.
Who is 1199?
1199SEIU is the largest, fastest-growing and most effective healthcare union in the United States. We represent over 400,000 members throughout New York State, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Maryland. Our members work in every job classification and in every facet of the healthcare industry, including hospitals, nursing homes, home care and clinics. 1199 is driven by a mission to achieve affordable, quality healthcare for all, and to be the strongest voice we can be for the workers who provide that care.
Who can join 1199?
1199SEIU members work in every job classification in every aspect of the healthcare industry including hospitals, home care agencies and organizations, nursing homes, health centers and clinics. Under the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency in charge of relations between unions and employers, some managers, supervisors and other employees are not eligible to vote in union elections. If you have a question about your eligibility, please contact an organizer.
What gains have 1199 members won?
Members of 1199SEIU have been able to achieve the highest job standards in America for healthcare workers, including better wages, affordable health benefits, retirement security, no-cost education opportunities, more paid time off and job security. 1199 members also have a strong voice on the job so we can advocate for better staffing and patient care. And because healthcare funding is largely controlled by government, we have built an effective voice in the legislative and regulatory arenas. We have been able to protect healthcare funding, expand access to affordable healthcare and advance our professions.
How do we form a Union?
The first step to forming a union is to form a committee that takes responsibility for informing co-workers and building union support. The next step is to sign cards stating that workers want to form a union and ask that an election be held. If a majority of workers vote for 1199, then workers initiate negotiations with management for better pay and other improvements.
Do we have the right to form a union?
Yes, the right to form a union is protected by federal law. Workers can talk about forming a union and exchange information anywhere and anytime, as long as it does not interfere with patient care. It is illegal for management to treat workers differently for supporting a union, interrogate workers about their union support, or threaten them in any way. The only way workers will win better pay, benefits and respect is by having the courage to stand up for one another, our patients and our families.
Who is a delegate and what do they do?
Delegates are rank-and-file members elected from each worksite’s department, who enforce our contract, represent our members in grievances and engage members in union activities.
I would like to represent my department as a delegate. How do I run? Visit Our Delegates page for complete instructions on how to run for an open delegate position in your institution.
What do I do if I have a question or concern about the conditions in my workplace?
Your delegate is your first point of contact when a question arises about your rights, working conditions, or if you have an idea for the workplace you want to share with your co-workers.
Why is management often opposed to unions?
Without a union, management has all the power and is able to make every decision on their own, without input from workers. With a union, workers have a united voice and are able to participate in the decisions that affect wages, benefits and working conditions. When workers are part of a union, management has to share power and decision-making, and this can often be difficult for management to accept. In order to stop workers from forming a union, management will often try to intimidate, divide and confuse workers. Management often hires high-priced consultants that spread misinformation and try to divert workers’ attention from the job improvements that need to be made. Workers have learned that if they stay united and do not let management’s scare tactics distract them, they will be successful in forming their union and winning job improvements.
What are dues?
Dues are the monetary resources that workers pool together to put toward solving problems in the workplace and organizing for the most effective and united voice. Dues pay for the legal experts who work with us to negotiate our contracts, the organizers who help us solve problems on the job, and the campaigns we run to support workers who want to join our union. In 1199, dues are 2 percent of our base wages with a $75 per month cap. When workers join 1199, they do not begin paying dues until they have successfully negotiated a first contract that wins improvements to their jobs.
Where does my dues money go?
Dues money pays for staff, salaries, legal fees, offices, contract negotiation costs and other expenses associated with the day-to-day running of our union. Dues money does not pay for health benefits. Most union contracts require employers to contribute to benefit funds or some other health benefit coverage for workers. Even in case of labor-management funds, the union does not run the funds; by law, these funds are separate trusts managed by an equal number of labor and management trustees.
I’m a laboratory technologist with a master’s degree. Why should I be in the same union as a housekeeper?
In unity there is strength and 1199’s guiding principle has always been “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Employers are continuing to demand more from workers in every field — while offering less. When workers of diverse classifications stand together we speak with one voice, our strength is greater and we build on the gains we have all fought so hard to win.
How do I do to change my address or remove a name from the mailing list?
Call 212.261.2300 or email the changes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are “Political Action Contributions”, or “PAC”?
Political Action Contributions are voluntary contributions that members make in order to support our voice in government where we advocate for the interests of patients and working families. Because healthcare is highly regulated and the majority of healthcare funding comes from the government, 1199 members have built the most effective legislative action program in the country. We have defended healthcare funding, elected pro-worker officials and politicians, expanded access to healthcare for the uninsured, and passed legislation on key patient protections.
Why should I contribute to our Political Action Contribution Fund?
Our goals are achieved not only through mobilization, but also through political strength. We encourage our members to register, vote and become politically active in our communities. The majority of healthcare funding for the institutions, research and programs that affect us is decided in the political and legislative arenas; Medicare, Medicaid, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, research and mental healthcare all depend on government funding. Our ability to elect the right people and fight for our share of budgets in city halls and state houses is critical.
How do I get in touch with my organizer?
Visit our Contact Us page to get in touch with your 1199 organizer.
I’m a member who disagrees with 1199’s public position on an issue or candidate. How can I voice my opinion?
You should participate in the local chapter meetings at your institution. You can also write a Letters to the Letters column in 1199’s magazine, Our Life And Times.
Will forming a union force me to go on strike?
No, strikes are a tool of last resort that workers use to make their voice heard and the decision to strike is only decided by a democratic vote of all members. The vast majority of union contracts are settled without strikes, because there are many other ways that workers can make management agree to improvements in their jobs.
Will forming a union prevent me from speaking directly to management or my Supervisor?
No. In fact, forming a union improves the lines of communication between workers and management. When workers have a union, there is a formal process in place so that workers can collectively raise their concerns and make sure they are addressed. But this formal process does not prevent individual workers from speaking directly to their supervisors as well. Workers often find that after forming their union, communications and relations with management are better than ever before.
Are you currently a healthcare worker looking to join 1199SEIU?
Visit our “Join Us” page for more information.