1199 Grows its Strength

September 5, 2022

Union ranks swelled this summer as roughly 1,000 new members voted to join

Screen Shot 2022-09-05 at 11.06.57 AM.pngRoughly one thousand new members voted to join the 1199SEIU family this summer with landmark wins in both Massachusetts and New York.

In July, nearly 200 workers at four Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) clinics in Boston, Worcester, Marlborough, Springfield and the Telehealth unit, voted to join the Union. It was the latest victory in a growing movement of Planned Parenthood workers organizing to protect good jobs and improve access to reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare.

Payal Kumar, who manages health equity at PPLM, said it was really important for them to be involved in the unionizing effort to help ensure that frontline staff were respected, and that management did not hold a monopoly on decision-making.

“It feels more important than ever now that the Roe v. Wade decision [which previously guaranteed the right to abortion in the U.S.] has been overturned. We are also seeing an alarming number of attacks on trans rights around the country, including restricting access to such mainstream treatments as HRT [hormone replacement therapy],” said Kumar.

Their role at PPLM involves finding ways that the organization can make access to healthcare more equitable. They said that the new members hope to negotiate a contract which ensures more time with each patient, which will go a long way to improving the clinicians’ ability to build trust and treat appropriately.

The organizing victory at PPLM came just one month after more than 800 nurses and service workers at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, NY, voted to form a union with 1199.

“Hospital management is out of touch with us, the caregivers who keep our hospital running every day,” said RN John Anthony Malizia, following the win, adding: “Now, with our union, we have a voice and a seat at the table. That means Northwell can't ignore us anymore.”

Wilma Vasquez, a Patient Care Assistant, said: “By forming our union, all of our efforts can finally be seen, and our voices can be heard. We all have an important to role in our hospital, and when we have a real seat at the table, we can only improve the care we provide for our patients.”

Monitor Tech, Theresa Newton, added: “Every day, we work to ensure our patients have a clean and safe environment to heal. Together in our union, we can ensure we are cared for too, by having an equal say in decisions affecting our work, benefits, and pay.”

1199 Magazine - July / August 2022