Why Join?

Why Join?

We are a union of healthcare workers. We work in the homecare, hospital and nursing home industries, as well as pharmacies, freestanding clinics and other healthcare settings. With over 400,000 members throughout New York State, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Maryland and the District of Columbia, we are the largest local union in the world.

Being a part of 1199SEIU means being part of a family that will ensure you never have to fight alone for your rights in the workplace. All workers deserve affordable healthcare, better staffing conditions, education and training opportunities, retirement security and a voice without the worry of being fired. Learn more about all of the opportunities that come with being an 1199SEIU member after the video below.

Do you work in a professional/technical healthcare field? Find out more about your resources with 1199SEIU.

Have a question? Just ask one of our organizers!

Affordable Healthcare

Low-cost or no-cost health coverage is a right for all workers, especially those in the healthcare industry.

As healthcare workers, we need to be able to care for ourselves in order to provide quality care for our patients. 1199 believes that every healthcare worker is entitled to have access to the same high quality healthcare they provide to their patients. Most 1199 members, both full and part-time, have access to low-cost or no-cost health insurance for themselves and their families. This often includes dental, vision and prescription coverage.

Better Staffing

Many 1199 contracts include specific worker-to-patient ratios to ensure adequate staffing. Members of 1199 have also negotiated procedures to protect workers from being floated to other units without adequate training and compensation.

In addition, many 1199 members have labor-management committees at their facilities that meet regularly to set staffing levels so workers can guard against short staffing.

In 2009, a law banning mandatory overtime for nurses went into effect in New York State. 1199 nurses were able to achieve this victory by uniting together and lobbying at the state capitol for this important measure to improve patient care.

Raises and Benefits

Even during tough economic times, members of 1199SEIU have used their voices to win the highest job standards for healthcare workers in America:

Higher Wages

As healthcare workers, we have some of the most important jobs in the country. But we’re not always fairly compensated for our work. And as the cost of living goes up, our wages do not always keep pace. The members of 1199 have been able to win some of the very best compensation, including:

• Guaranteed yearly raises.

• Step increases for years of experience.

• Improved evening, night, weekend and holiday differentials.

• Higher wages for increased skill levels and certifications.

• Better on-call pay

• Minimum wage levels for the lowest paid workers.

Recent victories

Massachusetts Homecare Workers With $15 an hour!

On June 26, 2015, some 35,000 Massachusetts Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) chalked up a major victory in the Fight For $15 campaign and became the nation’s first homecare workers to win a starting wage of $15 an hour.

“This was such a great victory. We really need this,” says Lizete Rosa, a Fall River, MA PCA who cares for her grandson, Evan. “Since 1199 has been working with PCAs it has been a victory for us, but as the grandmother of a consumer I want to make sure that he has good people working with him who are getting paid a good wage. And it’s not just for my family; it’s for everyone. This is hard work.”

Massachusetts PCAs organized with 1199SEIU in 2006, when they were making $10.84 an hour.

In summer 2014, thousands of 1199 hospital workers throughout New York City who are part of the League of Voluntary Hospital won a historic victory, successfully protecting their benefits and wages, and keeping good, middle-class healthcare jobs in New York City:

Contract highlights:

  • All workers won a total wage increase of 13.6% over the next four years, with incremental raises annually during that time!
  • No-cost healthcare for employee, children and spouse.
  • A strong and secure pension, which guarantees payments once retired for the rest of their lives.
  • Nurses won an increased voice in patient staffing ratios so that they will be able to better care for their patients.

No-cost and Low-cost Education & Training Opportunities

In the healthcare field, many of us want to advance our careers, or need continuing education units to maintain our certifications or licenses. Most 1199 members have access to training and education funds that provide:

• No-cost or low-cost college classes and tuition reimbursement.

• Seminars that provide no-cost CEUs.

• Paid time off to attend classes.

• Help with purchasing books, uniforms and other costs.

• No-cost classes in computer literacy, English and other skills.

1199 members often meet to determine what specific training and education opportunities they would like to have access to. Here are some examples of opportunities that the training funds provide throughout our union:

• In Massachusetts, hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state are part of the union’s training and education fund. This gives thousands of union members the opportunity to enhance their skills and advance their careers. 1199’s Training and Upgrading Fund has partnerships with schools across Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

• 1199 New York members have worked with the League of Voluntary Hospitals to create the largest and most successful health care training fund in the country, which offers no-cost and low-cost educational opportunities to more than 30,000 workers a year.

• 1199 members in Maryland have partnered with hospitals and nursing homes in Maryland and Washington, D.C. giving workers access to programs to earn a nurse’s aide certificate, take computer classes or enroll in other continuing education courses. Our Learning Centers in Baltimore and Washington also offer classes in computer skills, academic skills, medical terminology, ESOL, Spanish and CPR.

A Voice & Respect

Without a union, management has all the power, and workers have no say. With 1199, members share decision-making with management, and negotiate job improvements that are then guaranteed in a contract. After the contract is in place, workers regularly meet with management to make sure the contract is enforced and our voice is being heard in patient care, staffing and working conditions. Having a union means that management treats workers as true partners, and this leads to a more respectful and open environment at work!

A voice in government

Because healthcare is highly regulated, 1199 members have formed one of the most effective legislative action programs in the country. We not only advocate for healthcare funding, patients’ rights and expanded access for the uninsured, we have also achieved major victories for specific professions around issues such as scope of practice and licensure. Below are some examples of our legislative victories:

• In 2009, a law banning mandatory overtime for nurses went into effect in New York State. 1199 nurses were able to achieve this victory by uniting together and lobbying at the state capitol for this important measure to improve patient care.

• 1199 members in New York have worked with the Greater New York Hospital Association to create the Healthcare Education Project, which informs and mobilizes voters on health care issues. The Healthcare Education Project has stopped cuts to health care facilities, achieved millions in new funding for patient care and passed innovative legislation such as the Family Health Plus program that covers over one million previously uninsured children and adults.

• 1199SEIU members in Massachusetts played an integral role in bringing healthcare to every citizen in the Commonwealth in 2006. Since healthcare reform was enacted, hundreds of thousands of previously uninsured Massachusetts residents have now been covered by quality, affordable healthcare.

• In July 2006, personal care attendants, consumers and ally organizations worked with 1199SEIU to help pass the Quality Home Care bill, which received unanimous support from the state legislature. The bill gave PCAs the right to form a union and negotiate with the Quality Workforce Council for better wages and benefits. In November 2008, nearly 25,000 PCAs ratified their first contract with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, winning wage increases and paid time off for the first time in history.

• Working with our partners in the Health Care for All Coalition, 1199SEIU in Maryland played a key role in passing Medicaid expansion—winning health care coverage for tens of thousands of uninsured Maryland residents.

Job Protections

In our volatile economy, with cuts to many healthcare facilities on the horizon, it is important for healthcare workers to have the safety and security of union job protections. Here are some examples of job protections that 1199 members have won:

No sub-contracting.

In many of our facilities, management is prevented from hiring outside contractors to replace employees.

A fair disciplinary process.

Without a union, workers can be fired at any time, and without cause. With 1199, workers can only be disciplined with just cause, and have a right to union representation during any disciplinary procedure. The final decision is made by a neutral party, not management. This ensures that no one is fired unfairly, and also protects us when we want to speak up for better staffing, working conditions or patient care.

Layoff protections.

1199 members have a voice to work with management and avoid layoffs. In the event that layoffs do occur, 1199 members have the right to their former positions once the facility is hiring again. If the facility is part of a chain, members are often able to transfer to other facilities where positions are available.

Retirement Security

When you devote your life to caring for others, you should have the peace of mind that you can retire with dignity and security. 1199 members have been able to gain retirement plans with significant employer contributions.


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