April 23, 2020


Hundreds attended events throughout NYC and Long Island.

To prepare for the upcoming election and U.S. Census, as well as educating members about the realities of health disparities and systemic conditions in our communities, 1199ers gathered recently for an unprecedented series of meeting held in the five boroughs of New York City and on Long Island.

The gatherings were conducted at venues that included Hostos Community College and a Knights of Columbus Hall, brought together 1199SEIU activists and delegates for broad ranging conversations with experts from the U.S. Census Bureau, the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, and Union officers and staff.

Takisha Jenkins, a medical office assistant at Northwell’s Cohen Children’s Hospital in Glen Oaks said the meeting was important for building an informed mobilized membership ahead of the November 2020 elections. She attended the Queens event, which was held on March 4, at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center.

“Knowledge is power and we can never have too much of it,” said Jenkins. “Being in the know about the Union, what we are doing, and what is available to members is really important in these times. You can’t ask for a better way to strengthen the relationship with the Union than through events like this.”

At the Queens meeting, members heard from U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Siddiq Khan, who explained how the current census is being conducted and the importance of responding. Kahn also answered members’ questions and concern, including inquiries about the use of census data and security of the process.

The first event was held on January 29 at Long Island University’s Kumble Theater in Brooklyn. The meeting brought thick crowds to Central Brooklyn who were eager to hear about the Census and share their views of the challenges faced by Brooklyn’s healthcare system. Paulette Forbes, from Brookdale Medical Center, and Michele Ned, a long-time activist at Interfaith Medical Center, gave a joint presentation on the revivals of their struggling institutions, and the central role a mobilized workforce played in it. (Interfaith and Brookdale are among Brooklyn’s vulnerable safety net hospitals.)


“I came to the meeting for education,” said Iota McFarlane, a PCT at NY Presbyterian-Queens.

“When I represent my members, I don’t just want to speak wind, I want to know what I’m talking about and speak about the facts.”

The Manhattan meeting on February 25 was the last among the last of its kind at 1199’s NYC headquarters; the Union is preparing to move to its new larger headquarters near W. 37th St. (See story on pages 10 and 11.) Gladys Dari-Bruno, a contract administrator at NYU Langone in Brooklyn said the evening was bittersweet.

“This has been our home for so long and there’s so much history in this building,” she said. “It’s sad to go, but we are also moving on to bigger and better things.”

At press time, the Union was planning more events to bring together members and provide opportunities for education and leadership development, but that work is paused due to the coronavirus outbreak. Be sure to keep an eye on and the Union’s social media platforms for more information about when normal activities and events will resume.

1199 Magazine | March / April 2020