On Tuesday, January 13, 200 healthcare workers at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center voted overwhelmingly to join with 1199SEIU. These workers became interested in organizing with 1199SEIU in order to further the center’s mission of providing quality health care and education to New York’s underserved gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. They include nurses, doctors, social workers, patient care associates, medical assistants and many others.

“I’m unionizing because I believe in our namesake,” said Ariadne Brazo, a Mental Health Patient Navigator with Callen-Lorde. “Audre Lorde and Michael Callen wanted a better world for QTBLG folks. They stood up for change to make our community the best it could be, to make sure we are treated with respect. A union is good for the staff, good for the center, and good for the community.”

“1199 is my choice because of their rich social justice history and ongoing dedication to meeting the needs of diverse communities,” said Leigh Howard, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Callen-Lorde.

This victory marks 1199’s first LGBT health center in New York City; in Washington DC, the Whitman-Whitaker Community Health Center, which also serves LGBT patients, has been 1199 since the 1990s. These workers join 1199’s over 5,000 members at federally qualified health centers throughout New York City. As care shifts to community settings through New York’s $8 billion Medicaid Waiver, caregivers in community settings are joining 1199 to ensure good, middle-class jobs and the highest quality of care.

“On behalf of the over 400,000 members of 1199SEIU, we welcome the hardworking caregivers of Callen-Lorde into our union,” said Kevin Finnegan, Director of Politics and Legislation for 1199SEIU. “These caregivers have shown incredible compassion and dedication to the underserved LGBT community, and we are proud that they are joining with us in the 1199 family. Their mission aligns closely with our own: to advance the causes of equality, social justice and quality healthcare for all. We look forward to winning a great contract which will ensure good jobs for caregivers and continued quality care for Callen-Lorde patients.”