Remembering 1199’s History: Anniversary of Enhanced Citizenship ProgramMarch 15, 2021
On March 22, 2001, 1199 launched a program to assist union members and their families to obtain citizenship. The program was jointly administered by 1199’s Benefit and Pension Fund and its Training and Upgrading Funds.
The Union had begun helping members with citizenship questions and issues some 12 years earlier when, during the campaign to register members to vote in the upcoming New York City mayoral campaign, many non-citizen members mentioned that one reason they would like to become citizens was to vote and be more politically active.
The Citizenship Program developed a full range of completely free services. They included legal counsel, assistance in preparing applications, and ESL and citizenship classes to prepare for the naturalization interview and test.
The Program has assisted hundreds of members and their families to become citizens each year. It has also helped to grow the 1199 gorgeous mosaic. Today, nearly every nationality in the world is reflected in the Union’s membership.
Prior to the Covid pandemic, the Union held a yearly celebration to welcome its new citizens. At the celebrations, the new 1199 citizens were urged to register to vote and to become active in their communities. Many have.
This has enriched 1199 and helped to make the Union a formidable political force. The Union’s lobbying efforts have resulted in major victories for workers and patients. And 1199’s endorsement is now one of the most sought after in New York and other 1199 districts. While encouraging members to apply for citizenship, 1199 also stays on the frontlines for immigrant rights.