Healthcare workers at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Patchogue and Vassar Medical Center in Poughkeepsie Vote to join 1199SEIU

August 8, 2018


Today we welcome over 600 service workers at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Long Island, who voted overwhelmingly, by 417-69, to be part of the 1199SEIU family. On August 1, the service employees, including Nurse Aides, Transporters, Phlebotomists, Environmental Service and Dietary workers and Medical Assistants join the 130 technical workers at Brookhaven who voted to be part of 1199 in March.

The workers faced an anti-union campaign orchestrated by management as they came together to form a union with 1199. But they stayed strong.

Another activist, Marcela Vasquez, added: “I’ve worked as a Phlebotomist in the lab at Brookhaven since 2008. Previously, I didn’t really understand what a union was about because I didn’t go to the meetings. But this time I decided to educate myself and I realized what union membership could mean. “I see how important it is to have a voice, to be able to say collectively to management: ‘We work hard at this hospital and we have value.’”

Desiree Davis, a Nurse Aide, said: “Bringing the union in was important to me, because of all the benefits that are offered by 1199 such as educational opportunities, raises, child care, pensions and job security! Thank you 1199, for a better future for myself and my daughter.” 

“I’ve worked in healthcare for 30 years and when my coworkers started talking about 1199, I felt it was time for a change,” said Saul Quimbaya, a Dialysis Technician, who was a leading activist in the union campaign. “The fact that 1199 was a healthcare union made a big difference to me. I felt like the wider union would really understand our interests.”

Flor Mclaughlin, a Nursing Assistant in the ER, said she was motivated to join the union campaign because she wanted to be able to negotiate a contract which put patient-to-staff ratios in writing and make them binding.

“At the moment, these ratios are not respected. But then if something goes wrong in the ER with a patient because we have too many at once, we are the ones who are written up.

“I’ve been here for nine years and we’ve only had four raises during that time. It is hard to make ends meet, especially when they increase our healthcare costs when they give us a raise, meaning that what we have in our paycheck stays the same.”

On August 7th, another 45 Radiology Technologists and Clerical Workers at Vassar Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, voted almost unanimously, by 39 to 1, to join our union.

By providing compassionate and professional care to thousands of people in Long Island and the Hudson Valley, our newest members at Brookhaven and Vassar embody the spirit of the 1199 local.

With 420,000 members in five states along the Eastern seaboard. 1199SEIU is one of the fastest growing unions in the country.

As well as having a larger say in their working lives, the newest members voted to join 1199 to negotiate for the retirement security, affordable healthcare, educational benefits and job security that thousands of 1199 members enjoy.