First-Ever Meeting for Workers from Federally Qualified Health Centers

August 22, 2018

fqhc.jpgPolicy-makers are increasingly recognizing the benefits of community-based primary health care. That primary care is often delivered—especially in underserved communities—by Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).

As these institutions flourish, workers are mobilizing, organizing and union-building to improve patient care and protect their rights, job security and benefits.

On July 14, workers from FQHCs held their first unionwide meeting. The gathering at 1199’s Manhattan headquarters included members from long-standing 1199 facilities, newlyorganized workers and caregivers from non-unionized FQHCs in NYC, Hudson Valley, Massachusetts and Maryland.

The event was an opportunity for members to exchange experiences, discuss the challenges, and, perhaps most important, create a digital network to keep the conversation going. The program included remarks from Union officers, rank and filers, and leaders including Kirk Adams, Executive Director of the Healthcare Education Project, a Union-associated communitybased advocacy organization. Adams explained the importance of political action to preserve and extend funding for vital healthcare services in local communities.

“If you’re not at the table, you’re liable to be on the menu,” he warned.

Sandra Osorio, an 1199 member for 11 years, is a Patient Service Representative at Manhattan’s Ryan-Nena Community Health Center. Osorio was previously an 1199-represented medical translator at a doctor’s office in Lake Success, Long Island. When her job was eliminated, the 1199 Job Security Fund was able to place her in a new position at Ryan- Nena. She lauded the informational aspect of the event.

“It is important that we all get involved with our union,” she said. “If we don’t stand together with our co-workers, management will always have the upper hand.”

1199 Magazine: July / August 2018