A Look Back at 2023

December 17, 2023

The popularity and power of labor unions continued to surge in 2023, with the annual Gallup poll released on Labor Day showing two-thirds of respondents nationwide (67 percent) now approve of labor unions. From Hollywood writers and actors to UPS workers, automotive workers, Starbucks baristas and more, we have seen not only growing militancy — but also landmark victories. 1199 members, who were already secure in their union power, celebrated dramatic contract and political victories of their own in 2023. Here is a small sampling of what we have won.

New Organizing

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Nearly 3,000 more healthcare workers voted to join our Union across hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and homecare agencies throughout the nation.

Home Health and Personal Care Aides who work at the Community Care Health Services agency all across New York State— from Buffalo to Long Island and many places in between—made the commitment to join 1199, swelling the ranks of our union family by more than 1,600 in June.

Forty-nine EMTs and Paramedics at American Medical Response of New York in Mount Vernon voted unanimously to unite with their fellow 1199SEIU EMT members in September.

In October, nearly 450 workers at Fenway Health in Quincy, Massachusetts, joined our Union and became part of the growing movement of healthcare workers organizing to push back against attacks on LGBTQ+ patients.


Political Action

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More than 15,000 Union members from all over New York State filled the streets around Albany’s Capitol building on March 21, to make sure Governor Kathy Hochul knew what was at stake if she didn’t close the funding gaps in her proposed state budget. To drive home the point, 1199ers mounted a non-violent civil disobedience campaign outside her office in Midtown, Manhattan on March 29, with several Union members and officers submitting to arrest.

This was all part of a fourmonth-long lobbying campaign, which included weekly trips to Albany by member activists to lobby their representatives. In the end, the governor’s initial proposals were defeated. When the state budget was finally released on April 27, it included significant wage increases for home care workers over the next two years, to reach $19.65 on January 1, 2026—and indexed to inflation thereafter.

And it’s not just home care members who won statewide increases—1199ers put their weight behind the Raise Up NY campaign, resulting in Governor Hochul’s May 3 announcement that the state would increase the minimum wage to $16 in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester—and $15 elsewhere—followed by $0.50 annual increases in 2025 and 2026.


Contract and Compensation

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The roughly 90,000 members whose institutions belong to the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes brought management representatives to the table to reopen their contract in March, which had not been due to expire until September 2024. Having witnessed the victory of the New York State Nurses Association, 1199ers knew that management had the means to do the right thing. After a week of talks, the central demand for landmark wage increases of seven, six and five percent over three years was agreed.

The following month, more than 57,000 home care workers who submitted claims to the Special Wage Fund, received funds totaling $34 million. A few individual members received $8,000 from the fund, which was set up after 1199 filed a class action grievance to seek compensation for unpaid wages during 24hour home care shifts and other violations.

In June, it was time for nursing home members in New York City, Long Island and Westchester to reopen their contracts with the Greater New York and “Group of 65” nursing homes. They, too, came together to win a tremendous victory, achieving 18 percent raises over three years, which amounts to the highest increases in decades for roughly 33,000 members of 1199SEIU.

In Florida, members won a contract covering about 10,000 nurses, CNAs, technicians, dietary aides and other healthcare workers at 19 HCA hospitals after taking part in a nationwide campaign. The new contract will mean significant wage increases for the lowest earners.

Another ground-breaking settlement, this time in Massachusetts, saw the 58,000 Personal Care Attendants (PCA) who are paid directly by the state government to work in home care, ratified a new three-year contract in September which creates a pathway to $25/hour.

Caregivers at Mercy Hospital on Long Island who overcame a fierce anti-union campaign to join 1199 in 2017, ratified a new contract in October which included 18-percent wage increases over three years after a four-month battle with management.

Home health aides at Schofield Residence near Buffalo, ratified a three-year contract in November, including increased wages, health insurance, paid time off, paid family leave and compensation for in-service training. This victory sets a precedent for newly-organized home care workers who are joining 1199SEIU outside of NYC.


Celebrating Diversity

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1199ers made up one of the largest contingents at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City on June 11. Then on August 13, members lined Manhattan’s 6th Avenue for the National Dominican Day Parade On September 2, Union kids pulled together in Brooklyn and showed off their vibrant outfits at the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) Junior Carnival. Two days later, it was adult 1199ers’ turn to display their West Indian American cultural pride in all its glory. The banner of union solidarity flew high on September 9, as 1199ers filled Manhattan’s 5th Avenue alongside striking Writers Guild, UAW and SAG-AFTRA members, as well as victorious UPS members and newly-organized Starbucks Workers United members, for the NYC Labor Day Parade.

A few weeks later, on September 17, members celebrated Black heritage, culture, unity and power at the AfricanAmerican Day Parade in Harlem. On October 7, members rounded out the season with the joyous Panamanian Day Parade.