Uniting To Fight For Services and Jobs, Not Beds and Buildings

May 7, 2018

Delegates from the three major hospital systems in the most under-served part of Brooklyn came together at 1199SEIU headquarters in Manhattan for a two-day retreat this week, aimed at building unity around their campaign to improve health outcomes in the area, while maintaining good quality jobs in a new service landscape.

The group of 1199 delegates, contract administrators and organizers from Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center and Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center were joined by 1199 Senior Executive Vice President, Veronica Turner, along with 1199 Vice Presidents and educators to improve their skills in team building, coalition building, community & union organizing and persuasiveness.

Currently, the hospitals are not financially-viable and are dependent on money from New York State to stay afloat -- Nor are they adequately serving the community. Under the One Brooklyn Healthcare Initiative, NYS has allocated $700,000 to be invested in an integrated system including more out-patient clinics as well as “Centers of Excellence” to avoid duplication of services.

Albany has pledged to maintain current employment levels and that no one covered by an 1199 negotiated contract will see a loss of compensation or benefits under this initiative. However, hundreds of inpatient jobs will be lost and replaced by hundreds of new jobs in outpatient facilities, which will require many 1199 members to re-train.

At the retreat, delegates from different hospitals, spoke about the importance of sharing resources as they work together to preserve services and jobs in their community, even as beds and buildings are closing.


Jacinda Browne, a Clerical worker at Kingsbrook said: “The last two days, it was refreshing to know that we have the backing of 1199 leadership and delegates from other institutions -- That Manhattan had not forgotten about Brooklyn.”

Another member of the One Brooklyn workers council, Genelle Jones, a surgical technologist at Brookdale added: “This council has the resources and backing that we need. We need to grab it, grasp it, and run with it. It’s very reassuring that we aren’t doing this alone. There are a lot of people being affected.”

Sybilla Daniel Douglas, RN at Brookdale, added: “If we work together, it’s clear that we can have a positive impact on reducing healthcare disparities in the community.”

Ralph Brown, from Brownsville Multi Service Family Healthcare, said:

“It’s imperative that everyone get on the same page. Especially with the three main players, we need to be working together. If we don’t get on the same page, we’ll fail: divided we fall, united we stand.”

The Union Principles behind One Brooklyn Initiative are:

• Access to high quality healthcare for all. This includes a range of services needed to sustain and restore health, from emergency services to preventive care and everything in between.

• Provision of the services and resources to reduce healthcare disparities between populations and improve overall population health.

• Maintenance of current union wage and benefit standards and no loss of union jobs.

• A fully funded and comprehensive transition plan to ensure that all healthcare workers have a place in the new system.

• Investment in the local economy through purchasing and infrastructure development.

• Sufficient funding to achieve these goals for system transformation.