Remembering 1199’s History: The launch of our website 20 years ago
Just a generation ago, smartphones did not exist. Computers were limited and landline telephones and pagers were the only communications technology that people owned.
The rise of the Internet provided another vehicle to assist organizations and organizers to help build and organize groups and communities. And 20 years ago this month, the Union and the 1199 National Benefit and Pension Funds (NBF) launched Internet websites.
For the first time, members could use computers to log onto the NBF site and access information about their health and pension benefits. The site included information about all NBF programs and benefits. And also, for the first time, members were able to search lists of providers and download claim forms. Additionally, members who were preparing for retirement could use the site to request pension applications prior to meeting with counselors.
Also included in the NBF site were links to other Union websites such as the Bread and Roses Program and the League of Registered Nurses.
At the 1199 site, members could access a wide variety of information, including the 1199 contract with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Nursing Homes, news within the districts and information about other SEIU locals around the country.
When the site was first launched, many veteran organizers were concerned that it would be used in place of essential face-to-face organizing, rather than as another tool in each organizer’s tool box. That has not been so. As our web presence has expanded, organizers and leaders have come to appreciate their value particularly during the Covid pandemic. Today, the websites and social media have helped to bring members together who are forced to remain physically apart.