Thousands of hospital workers across Greater Boston joined 1199 in 2009. Find out more about this city on the move!

A Victory for Hospital Workers! Click here to read about the contract that is making a difference in the lives of patients, healthcare workers and their families.


Hospital workers support public radio in order to educate our community about Free & Fair union elections.
Click to listen to our WBUR (90.9 FM) underwriting spot.

Free & Fair hits the airwaves!
Hear the radio ad.

Hear “Voice of the Red Sox” Joe Castiglione promote fair elections.

Listen to the WBCN ads that ran
during Superbowl 2008.


Free and Fair Elections: Quality Care and Quality Jobs

Studies show that a vast majority of Americans would, given the chance, join a union. So why, then, aren’t more workers unionizing? The answer is that when working people attempt to form unions, management almost always reacts with campaigns of intimidation, misinformation and fear.

Having a free and fair union election means that employees are free to decide whether they want to unionize in a fair secret ballot vote. Management, rather than interfering, respects this decision.


Free and fair election agreements often include the following guidelines:

  • Hospital workers are allowed to discuss information about the Union.
  • No worker will be treated differently for supporting or not supporting the Union.
  • Management and 1199SEIU agree that the question of whether workers should be represented by a union is a question that workers should answer for themselves in a secret ballot election.
  • Management agrees that supervisors will not answer questions or express any further opinion on the issue of union representation.
  • Organizers will be given access to non patient care areas of the workplace to talk with hospital workers when they are off-duty.
  • Management has pledges to respect the results of the election and begin bargaining right away if we choose to join the Union.

Many local hospitals are now entering into election agreements of various types:

In Massachusetts:

  • Caritas Christi Healthcare: In January of 2009, 1199SEIU and Caritas entered into a Free and Fair Elections agreement which allowed hospital workers at all Caritas facilities to make their own decision regarding whether to join 1199. In 2009 alone, workers at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Carney Hospital and Norwood Hospital voted to unite with thousands of their coworkers as members of 1199SEIU.
  • Boston Medical Center: From 1996-1997, BMC workers held two union elections under an election accord. In 2005, another group of workers voted in an election under a new accord, negotiated earlier that year.
  • The Trustees of Boston City Hospital in 1993 negotiated a process in which they agreed to recognize the union upon evidence that a majority of workers petitioned for representation.
  • Whidden Memorial Hospital: Two elections took place between 2000 and 2002 under a free and fair accord.
  • UMass Medical Center in Worcester conducted an election in or about 1999 under an accord.

Elsewhere in the U.S., many health systems have negotiated free and fair election codes of conduct. These systems include:

  • Kaiser Permanente: All hospitals and clinics nationally (Kaiser is country’'s largest private nonprofit health care provider).
  • HCA: Several hospitals in three states (HCA is the largest for profit healthcare corporation in the world).
  • Tenet: All California hospitals (Tenet is the second largest for profit system in the U.S.)
  • Catholic Healthcare West: All hospitals in its system.
  • Allina Health: All hospitals in its system.
  • Daughters of Charity: All hospitals in its system.
  • The NY League of Voluntary Hospitals (representing the overwhelming majority of Hospitals in NYC).
  • Many nursing home chains throughout the country.
  • Many independent hospitals throughout the country.