History Short: 1999 Was a Banner Year

December 5, 2020


The 1999 December issue of 1199 News trumpeted the Union’s outstanding organizing victories that year.

At a time when organizing had stalled in most unions, the Union added some 7,000 new members through 20 elections to the 1199 family. The victories ranged from small clerical units to the overwhelming “yes” vote by 4,000 homecare workers at Partners in Care.

The organizing and mergers brought the Union’s membership to 201,000, surpassing the Union’s goal of 200,000 it had set for the following year.

That growth dramatically increased 1199’s political power and its ability to improve the lives of members, their facilities and New Yorkers as a whole. The growth was also necessary to meet the many challenges in the healthcare industry.

Assaults on the industry by the business community had posed a serious threat to both patients and workers. With 1199 increased influence coupled with assaults on health care, management became more willing to fight alongside the Union to help ensure affordable, quality care.

Management’s cooperation with 1199 bore fruit in December 1999 with the passage of the Health Care Reform Act (HCRA) in Albany. HCRA substantially increased funding for health care in New York State through 2003. The act contained virtually everything the Union had lobbied for that year, including Family Health Plus, which provided health insurance for up to one million uninsured in the state.

The act also protected institutions from Medicaid cuts. The press heralded 1199’s role and took note of the dramatically high number of members involvement and contributions to the Union’s Political Action Fund.