Editorial: United We Stand

October 23, 2023

editorial-September-October.2023.final.jpgAs 1199ers, we all know that our strength at the bargaining table— where we routinely achieve some of the best healthcare contracts in the country —comes primarily from our unity.

The bosses know this too, and they also know that one of the most effective methods of diminishing our power is by sowing divisions between us. Management will always be motivated to try to prevent us coming together in the large numbers we need to win.

That’s why we must be steadfast when it comes to welcoming all members into our union family, regardless of their ethnic background or country of origin.

From the earliest days of 1199, we have always cherished our diverse make up. In the 1930s, Jewish pharmacists, who were being denied hospital work because of religious discrimination, made common cause with service workers in NYC’s major hospitals – who themselves were facing racial discrimination.

Fast forward almost a century and we still treasure the diversity in our Union, which also welcomes newcomers to the United States with open arms. So, when politicians like NYC Mayor Eric Adams make inflammatory comments about people seeking asylum, we are bound to cry foul.

Many of our members are immigrants themselves and the 1199 jobs they find when they reach our shores often provide their first foothold on the path to enjoying the American dream (See 1199 Welcomes Immigrants, p. 4).

To demonstrate our Union's commitment to diversity over the summer months, 1199ers of every ethnic background can be seen honoring each other’s cultural traditions during parade season (See Celebrating our Diverse Heritage, p. 10).

It is not just immigrants who face discrimination in the United States, of course. The fight for racial equity is also deeply woven into the Union’s DNA. When it comes to commemorating significant milestones in the civil rights movement, 1199ers will always turn out. (See Walking the Walk, p. 19)

And as the country gears up for the 2024 general election campaign, it is more important than ever for working people to unite around elected representatives with a proven track record on issues like affordable healthcare and housing, rather than being swayed by dishonest right-wing rhetoric around immigration.

Just as this edition goes to press, the extremists in the Republican caucus of the House of Representatives had come dangerously close to forcing a Federal Government shutdown. While these elected officials represent just 1.8% of the country, they have been able to wield enormous power.

We know that if we remain united and focused that we too can exercise our own power at the ballot box (See 1199’s Political Influence in the South, p. 22). There is never a good reason for division and discrimination along ethnic or racial lines. But there is almost always a clear motive – dividing working people in order to reduce our power.