Planned Parenthood Workers Win Big

July 27, 2021

Organizing and contract victories at the nation’s largest reproductive health organization.

PPFA.jpgWorkers at Planned Parenthood Group of New York (PPGNY) and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) made big strides in building worker power this spring with a major organizing win and contract victory.

In an April card count, 1199SEIU was certified as the representative for 236 workers at PPFA, the parent organization to the nation’s local Planned Parenthood clinics. Driven by their commitment to equitable access to quality care and reproductive freedom, these workers sought union representation to ensure they have a voice in carrying out Planned Parenthood’s mission. In response to the workers’ interest, PPFA leadership and 1199SEIU entered into an agreement to resolve the issue of union representation without disruption.

"We were able to hold our ground on things that management really wanted concessions on. This contract is an important victory for future generations of workers.”

– PPGNY RN Coordinator Mariko Yamasaki

“Forming a union gives us new ways to stay united and support each other. 1199 empowers us to show up for our co-workers and the people and communities we serve,” said Sebastian Deken, Associate Editorial Director in Development.

“I support forming a union because I believe in Planned Parenthood,” said Farhana Sheikh, Associate Director of IT at PPFA.

“We are a nonprofit that works for the benefit of community and the future of our organization depends on our ability to retain the best people.”

“Just like Planned Parenthood’s patients, I want all of us to feel safe, protected, seen, and heard. Joining 1199SEIU gives us a voice,” said Anya Trent, a Contributions and Compliance Specialist in Development.

PPGNY workers followed up PPFA’s organizing victory with a hard-won collective bargaining agreement. After they organized in August 2019, PPGNY’s clinical staff faced a difficult management intent on breaking the union and drastically paring back benefits and staff.

“It was complicated because we started contract negotiations with a lot of optimism and hope, but then the pandemic hit, and we had to change focus,” says Jessica Blue, a nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood’s Bleecker Street clinic in lower Manhattan. “We wanted to come out of negotiations keeping what we had. Management had always claimed poverty, and then they really doubled down.”

Workers said, “Not On Our Watch!” and hit the picket lines, supported by numerous elected officials and community advocates.

Workers wouldn’t allow the administration to use COVID-19 or the dedication of mission-driven caregivers as cover for union busting.

“We came up with a lot of cost saving measures to save people’s jobs, and management just rejected all of that,” says RN Coordinator Mariko Yamasaki. “Then the tone of negotiations really changed.”

PPGNY bosses faced a determined and mobilized workforce ready to do whatever it took to win a fair contract. In April, 1199ers at PPGNY settled a collective bargaining agreement that guarantees healthcare costs, provides across the board wage increases of 2.5% and 1.5%, and includes a July 1, 2021 re-opener around wages.

“It’s gratifying that we stood strong throughout the process, and won progressive wage increases and controls on our healthcare costs,” said Yamasaki. “We were able to hold our ground on things that management really wanted concessions on. This contract is an important victory for future generations of workers.”

1199 Magazine - May / June 2021