The Work We Do: NYPQ

December 17, 2023

The country marked National Radiologic Technology Week November 5-11, and what better way to celebrate these crucial caregivers than to welcome them into the Union family. The 1199 Magazine caught up with a few of our newest technical members at NewYork Presbyterian Queens (NYPQ), who recently signed their first contract, bringing them the gold standard wages and benefits associated with institutions belonging to the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes.

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1. “When I looked at the health benefits we get through joining 1199, it was a no brainer,” said 1199 Radiation Therapist Richard Grant. He joined the first contract bargaining committee once the vote was taken to join 1199.

“The Union makes the workplace less intimidating,” says Grant, who also operates specialized radiation equipment for cancer patients and has worked at NYPQ for two decades. "It is good to know there are people to lobby on your behalf and advocate to protect your rights. I think 1199 helps workers to perform at a higher level because we can speak our minds about best practices without worrying about retaliation. I would like to become a Delegate. I have now seen how the Union operates to make sure that workers get what they deserve, and I want to be a part of that.”

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2. “I have always wanted to be in the union. Both my parents were union members, so I knew what it meant,” says Geraldine Sullivan, an 1199 Ultrasound Tech who has worked at NYPQ for 33 years. “We were always fairly well taken care of here. But there’s no way around it: You have to fight for your rights — and the union is the only way to get what you’re due.”

Sullivan’s area of expertise is detecting abnormalities inside different areas of the body, like the liver, abdomen, breasts, and prostate, as well as ectopic pregnancies. “It is not a mundane job,” she says. “It is always different every day.”

The Word We Do NYPQ 3 - Nov:Dec 23 1199MAG.jpg3. “The technology in this field is always evolving,” says Alfred Sales, a Senior Radiology Technologist. “When I started out 33 years ago, we used to process the X-ray films using developers and fixers. Nowadays, it is all digital.” One of the most rewarding aspects of his work, according to Sales, is precepting students from local colleges who come to the hospital to learn on the job.

The Word We Do NYPQ 4 - Nov:Dec 23 1199MAG.jpg4. The first attempt to unionize the technical staff at NYPQ, according to 1199 Phlebotomist Latrecia Whittingham, came about five years ago because of poor hospital leadership. “What changed people’s minds this time,” she says, “was that we were about to face healthcare premiums next year. A family plan would have cost more than $700 a month.”

After 21 years on the job, Whittingham is still passionate about the work. “I love interacting with the patients,” she adds. “Sometimes, they don’t have visitors and they need a little encouragement. A little bit of talk goes a long way in terms of emotional well-being.”

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5. Karen Smith always knew the benefits of 1199 membership. But it wasn’t until recently, that she was able to bring her co-workers in the Emergency Department along with her. “It wasn’t my intention to lead when we began to negotiate our first contract,” she says. “But I’m a little more outspoken, and wanted to finally get things started.”

Smith, who has worked as an ED Technician for 14 years, hopes to use her new union education benefits to study for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

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6. “I like to help put people at their ease and make them feel as comfortable as possible,” says Erika Rivera, an 1199 Ultrasound Tech, “Patients are generally most afraid of breast ultrasound. I try to help them relax and view it as a routine test to rule out abnormalities.

“People tell me I am gentle. The procedure is very dependent on technique and making sure the patient is properly treated.”