Editorial: Now We Move Forward As A More Perfect Union

August 15, 2017

This summer’s Unity and Power vote, which was conducted union-wide over six weeks. In nearly 1,300 elections at 800 employers, 93% of voting members approved amendments to the 1199 Constitution that will change the Union’s dues cap, adjust officer elections to help facilitate the democratic process, and give the 1199 Executive Council the authority to create a an “Associate Member” classification of membership that will diversify and strengthen the Union’s ranks.

By saying yes to these changes, members weren’t just agreeing to adjust our foundational document; they were affirming their belief in 1199.

“We need to remember we should never choose individual money over collective power,” says Radiological Technologist Jeanine Bassi, a delegate at Southampton Hospital on Long Island, NY.

Members did indeed vote to invest in an organization they know will stand up for the rights of workers and fight for equality and justice and a properly-funded healthcare system, in which caregivers may work to the best of their ability in the important jobs they do every day.

“Some members are facing threats to their jobs as health care is reorganized,” said Vickie Linnell, a phlebotomy team leader at Cape Cod Health Care in Massachusetts.

“One member was very negative during the campaign, and he now started coming to meetings as he sees the value of working together to protect our jobs.”

Bassi also shared her practical view of a union strength.

“I now understand that our dues pay for the entity that helps us obtain our benefits. How could people come together to force an employer’s hand on wages and benefits otherwise,” she challenges.

And it’s not just employers’ hands. Because of the Union’s strength and drive, 1199ers are among the prime movers in the fight for the Affordable Care Act. Under the banner of “Care Not Chaos” members have tirelessly manned phone lines and demonstrated and lobbied in Washington, D.C. and statehouses and city halls across the country. Their work paid off in the wee hours of July 28 when a Senate bill repealing Obamacare went down in flames.

“If we don’t take a stand now, where will we be in a few years’ time when they start [trying to] close hospitals?” asks Jennifer Patton- Ortiz, an RN from Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, NY.

With the new resources and strength put in place through Unity and Power, 1199ers will be on picket lines, at phone banks, at the bargaining table and in the offices of management and elected officials, fighting for justice and equality for all people. “It will not be easy,” warned Pres. Gresham. Worthwhile fights never are.

Said Gresham: “We must — and will — stay vigilant in our efforts to protect and improve access to quality healthcare.”