Editorial: Detecting Hopeful SignsSeptember 2, 2022
Don’t get scared. Get active.
It is clear that we are living in turbulent times. Our national political landscape is rife with deep divisions and the terrible Russian offensive against the Ukrainian people rages on— threatening stability across the globe. But the frightening news we are witnessing on the national and international stage as the 1199 Magazine goes to press is a long way from capturing the whole story.
While many news outlets are fueling feelings of uncertainty and powerlessness, our Union strength is increasing as more and more workers vote to join our family and existing members continue to fight back successfully.
Tens of thousands of members won an important victory in July when the New York State Department of Health announced a significantly expanded bonus program for healthcare workers. The expansion to include dietary, housekeeping and transport members came after 34,000 members signed a petition calling on NYS to do the right thing. This win comes just a few months after Home Care members won a permanent wage increase after a sustained lobbying campaign in Albany.
This financial recognition of the value of healthcare work across New York State is one the important reasons why 1199 members will be working hard to support Governor Kathy Hochul in her race to retain the Governorship this coming November. Much of our wages and benefits that we negotiate at the bargaining table is dependent on decisions made in Albany. We cannot afford see Governor Hochul lose, particularly after proving herself to be a champion of healthcare workers.
It is not just New York, where members and retirees are gearing up for political action as we approach the midterm elections. Both Massachusetts and Maryland members will be working to ensure that Democratic candidates occupy the governors’ mansions, to both secure a fair deal for healthcare workers and to maintain control of the state-level voting process—to avoid a repetition of the Republican shenanigans that marred the certification of the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris victory in 2020.
On the national level too, we are already seeing signs of hope on the political scene. In Kansas, for example, a ballot initiative that would have allowed the state legislature to impose a total ban on abortion was roundly defeated. With reproductive rights under attack across the country following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and remove the constitutional right to abortion—the Kansas voters’ verdict was very welcome and could be the first sign of a backlash against the ultraconservative ruling.
Our union—as well as demonstrating a long history of campaigning for gender equality at the ballot box—has recently seen an influx of workers at Planned Parenthood clinics in both New York and Massachusetts join our ranks. These new members are at the forefront of maintaining access to safe abortions and other needed healthcare services.
Whether it is through voting to join our Union or getting out the vote in important local and national political races, 1199 members can always be counted on to stand up for the rights of working people—and more often than not, to win.