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.


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Boston Herald: Boston union picks up Carney Hospital workers

Boston union picks up Carney Hospital workers

By Christine McConville
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Caregivers at the Carney Hospital in Dorchester yesterday agreed to join the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union.

With Wednesday’s vote, 500 Carney workers - including respiratory therapists, radiology technicians, licensed practical nurses, housekeepers and dietary workers - are now part of 1199SEIU, one of the nation’s fastest-growing labor unions.

“This has been a long time coming, and we are thrilled,” Kathy Riley, a nuclear medicine technician, said in a statement.

Some 79 percent of the targeted Carney workers voted for unionizing, organizers said.

Click here to read more


Boston Globe: Hospital workers say yes to union

Hospital workers say yes to union Caritas Carney is second in Catholic chain to join SEIU

By Robert Weisman, Globe Staff | June 11, 2009

Nearly 500 workers at Caritas Carney Hospital in Dorchester will join the Service Employees International Union, making it the second Caritas Christi Health Care hospital to unionize this spring.

In April, more than 800 employees at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, the flagship of the six-hospital chain, voted to affiliate with the same labor union, Local 1199 of SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

Click here to read the full article.


Workers at Caritas Carney Hospital in Boston Vote to Join 1199SEIU

As citywide campaign by hospital workers to unite in 1199SEIU gains momentum, workers choose united voice to ensure Carney is best place to work and receive care

Following a two-day, hospital-wide vote, nearly 500 caregivers at Caritas Carney Hospital in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston voted overwhelmingly (79% YES) to join 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest labor union of healthcare workers in Massachusetts. Carney Hospital is part of Caritas Christi Health Care, the largest community based hospital system in the state.

Workers at the Dorchester facility who have now joined 1199SEIU include respiratory therapists, radiology techs, licensed practical nurses, nurse assistants, pharmacy techs, clerical workers, housekeepers, dietary workers and many others. Just two months ago, more than 800 at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston also voted to join 1199SEIU.

“This has been a long time coming, and we are thrilled,” said Carney Hospital Nuclear Medicine Technician Kathy Riley. “We are devoted to our patients and this community, and we’re excited about working together to make the quality of care at our hospital the best that it can be. We’re proud to continue the momentum of hospital workers across Boston in joining 1199SEIU. Free and fair union elections for all.”

The successful vote was hailed by community leaders as a win not just for caregivers, but also for patients and the community.

“Carney is so much more than just a community hospital - it’s a real part of the community,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in a statement. “Generations of Dorchester families have turned to Carney for quality care, good jobs and a ray of hope. Joining 1199SEIU means Carney workers will protect what they’ve built - and improve things for the future. Why can’t every hospital in the city of Boston have 1199?”

“When workers have a free choice about uniting together, it not only allows health care workers to improve conditions for their patients and themselves, but also helps to preserve the long-term sustainability of their hospital,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “And a strong Carney Hospital will help Dorchester continue to be one of the strongest and most vibrant communities in Boston. We are so proud to welcome the workers of Carney to 1199SEIU.”

In the past year, thousands of healthcare workers in Boston have voted to join 1199SEIU for a voice for job security, a better future for their families, and to provide the best patient care. During these difficult economic times, caregivers have found that having a united voice has also been effective in protecting the economic health of their hospitals and their communities. As a union of healthcare workers, 1199SEIU has developed a legacy of advocacy for public investment in quality healthcare services, training, and access, and has defended many health facilities against funding cuts.

“Carney Hospital is part of the heart and soul of the Dorchester community - and the workers at Carney are devoted to providing the highest quality of care possible for the citizens of Boston,” said State Representative Martin J. Walsh. “Caregivers at Carney will now be able to use the strength of their voices to advocate for the best care for their patients and funding for their hospital.”

In October of 2007, non-union hospital workers across Boston announced their appeal to hospital CEOs to allow free and fair voting conditions when deciding whether to join a union. Caritas Christi Health Care distinguished itself as the first major health system to forge such an agreement with 1199SEIU in January 2009.

“Caregivers at Carney Hospital do some of the most important work in our community - by caring for the sick and providing hope,” said Boston City Councilor Maureen Feeney. “And by joining 1199SEIU through a free and fair union election, we know that workers will have a real voice in improving the quality of care for their patients and keeping the hospital strong. Every Boston hospital worker deserves this fair process.”

At every hospital in Boston, workers are organizing to unite in 1199SEIU. Workers who have organized at St. Elizabeth’s and Carney facilities have pledged their support to assist colleagues at other Boston facilities do the same.


More than 800 Workers at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center Make History with Vote to join 1199SEIU

In one of the Largest Union Votes at a Boston Area Hospital in decades, workers unite for the best patient care, for their families and for each other
Healthcare workers at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, the largest medical center in the Caritas Christi Health Care chain, today announced they have overwhelmingly voted to join 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
The vote means more than 800 St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center workers will officially join 1199SEIU, just weeks after the announcement of an historic accord between 1199SEIU, the Area Trades Council, and Caritas Christi Health Care ensuring free and fair voting conditions for employees while they are deciding whether to join a union. Caritas Christi is the largest community-based health system in Massachusetts.  1199SEIU is the largest union of healthcare workers in Massachusetts.
Workers who participated in the vote included respiratory therapists, surgical techs, x-ray techs, clerical workers, nursing assistants, housekeepers, dietary workers and many others.  A group of skilled maintenance workers also voted to join the Area Trade Council.

“We are overjoyed and thrilled.  People were crying with joy in the halls last night,” said St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center Patient Care Assistant Sonia Marshall, “We believe in the mission of St. Elizabeth’s, and we’re excited about working together to make our hospital the best that it can be for our patients and also for hospital workers and our families.  We look forward to the day when all of our sisters and brothers across Boston are able to have free and fair union elections.”

Over the past 35 years, workers have attempted to form a union at St. Elizabeth’s at least three different times. Under new leadership, Caritas Christi Health Care reached an historic accord in January 2009 with 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Area Trades Council, which established a free and fair union election code of conduct.  Under the accord, workers would be free to make their own decisions on whether to join together as a union under fair secret ballot voting conditions. Caritas Christi and the members of 1199SEIU – including workers at Caritas Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, who had previously organized with 1199SEIU – along with the Area Trades Council, have pledged to work together on efforts around employee training and education, as well as employee and patient satisfaction, to usher in the next level of health care quality.

“We warmly welcome St. Elizabeth’s workers into our union,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham.  “This is a time of great challenges and unprecedented opportunities. Caritas Christi is a thoughtful and innovative health system that understands how giving workers a free choice about uniting together not only allows them to provide the very best care to their patients, but also helps to preserve the long-term sustainability of their hospital. Now that St. Elizabeth’s workers have a union voice, we can all work together to defend healthcare funding, expand access, and make life better for the caregivers at St Elizabeth’s and their families.”
“By an overwhelming margin, St. Elizabeth’s workers have come together to unite with the common goal of making their hospital the best it can be for patients, for the community and for each other as caregivers,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Mike Fadel.  “During this time of budget cuts and economic uncertainty, workers at St. Elizabeth’s will stand together with their fellow healthcare workers across Massachusetts.  The next step is that workers at St. Elizabeth’s will elect a bargaining committee and begin the process of forming their own bargaining proposals.”

Organizing efforts are ongoing at hospitals throughout Massachusetts.  Area hospital CEOs have been asked to allow workers to vote under free and fair conditions. Workers at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center have pledged to help health care workers organize at other hospitals, including other Caritas facilities, where union election campaigns are expected to launch in the near future.

Deal paves way for union

Excerpt from Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who supported SEIU in its successful effort to unionize home health workers last year, said in a statement, “Caregivers perform one of the most critical roles in helping the sick, but their services are some of the most undervalued. Through this commitment between Caritas Christi and 1199SEIU, everyone involved in delivering quality healthcare to the people of Boston will benefit.”

Dr. Ralph de la Torre, chief executive of Caritas Christi, also hailed the agreement. “We’re breaking down fences,” he said. “This is a new era of cooperation.”

The service employees union now represents about 900 employees in Caritas Christi’s Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, while the Area Trades Council - which also signed the agreement - represents about 35 employees at the chain’s flagship, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston.

The service employees union launched an effort to unionize Boston’s large hospitals about two years ago. The campaign has focused largely on Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. SEIU’s goal is to unionize the entire hospital, rather than just individual trades, such as electricians or nurses.

Strategically, the union has sought to mobilize public opinion against Beth Israel, as opposed to just campaigning to win over employees. It has run advertisements critical of Beth Israel and has targeted its chief executive, Paul Levy.

Mike Fadel, executive vice president of 1199SEIU, said about half of Caritas Christi’s 13,000 employees could ultimately be organized.

Asked if a union workforce would translate into higher wages, Fadel said, “This could lead to improvements in general for patients, for workers, for the healthcare system, and the community.”

He also hinted that Caritas Christi might benefit from the union’s political might.

“We will work jointly around issues like healthcare funding,” Fadel said.

That could mean joint lobbying for increased payment from MassHealth, the state and federal Medicaid program that provides medical coverage for low-income and disabled patients.

The agreement to be unveiled today is not unique. The SEIU local signed a similar agreement with a large group of hospitals in the New York City area about 10 years ago, and in 2006, it signed a pact with Cape Cod Healthcare, which has two hospitals.

The success of the agreement with Caritas Christi will depend largely on the economy, said Jeff Toner, principal of Dietz Creative Communications, a Kennebunk, Maine, firm that advises hospitals and unions on organizing issues.


Healthcare groups push for federal bailout funds

Kay Lazar - Friday, January 2, 2009
With a leafleting, lobbying, and letter-writing blitz, healthcare groups are urging Governor Patrick to use expected federal bailout money to shore up health programs slashed this fall because of the state’s budget crisis.

A coalition of three dozen social service, healthcare, labor, and legal groups - dubbed Put Patients First - is mailing 100,000 Boston area voters a flier about the specific effect of recent cuts to Boston Medical Center and Cambridge Health Alliance. The two institutions serve a large share of the region’s low-income residents and, hospital officials say, are suffering from disproportionate state budget cuts.

Click here for the full article. (PDF)


Personal Care Attendants win higher wages and benefits with 1199SEIU

On November 25, PCAs voted to ratify their first contract for higher wages and benefits. PCAs, consumers, community supporters and allies, and elected officials welcomed the announcement at the Veronica B. Smith Senior Center in Brighton. Read the full coverage of this historic event below (PDFs).

Boston Globe - Home care workers vote union-negotiated pact
Boston Globe - SEIU wins pact for 25,000 home care workers
Boston Herald - Care workers get 15% raise
Worcester T&G - Attendants OK their first contract
Cape Cod Times - Union contract boosts health aides
New Bedford Standard Times - Union helps struggling PCAs
New Bedford Standard Times - Help for the Helpers
Patriot Ledger - Thousands of personal care attendants to get raises and health insurance under new contract
Bureau of National Affairs - 1199SEIU negotiates first contract for 25,000 Massachusetts home aides


Boston Herald - Docs’ Rx: Free, fair union vote

Cynthia McConville - Tuesday, November 11, 2008 (Click here for PDF of article)

Dozens of prominent Boston physicians, including two Nobel Prize winners, have asked Boston-area hospital administrators to let their workers freely vote on unionizing efforts.

In a full-page advertisement in yesterday’s Boston Herald, 34 area physicians added their voices to a growing chorus of people who say that hospital workers should be allowed to decide if they want to unionize.

Union officials say hospital administrators have used intimidation tactics to prevent hospital workers from such votes.

Yesterday, the doctors - many of whom are now retired - agreed.

“Several hospitals in the Boston area have a long history of intimidating and coercing hospital workers” when it comes to union drives, the doctors wrote.

Dr. Patricia Downs Berger, a retired internist, said she has asked hospital administrators to allow nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and other care-givers to vote on unionizing, because “the motivation is social justice.

“It’s not to get at the hospitals,” she said.

“We just want to ensure that workers have a fair shake, because it’s the big people at the hospitals, and the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies that have the power.”

For more than a year, Service Employees International Union District 1199 has waged its very public battle against Boston hospital administrators.

Union organizers say that with unions, health-care workers would have access to better, more affordable health care, and patients would receive better treatment because unions would create a more collaborative environment.

They have accused the hospital administrators of using health-care dollars to squelch the union efforts.

If the union efforts are successful, tens of thousands of Bostonians could be affected, because one of every six Boston jobs is in a hospital setting.

Yesterday’s full-page ad delighted the embattled caregivers, said Mike Fadel, SEIU District 1199’s executive vice president.

“Caregivers are seeing that the doctors are not just supporting them at work, but publicly as well,” he said.

Russ Davis, executive director of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, which co-sponsored the ad, said the physician’s letter sends a new message to hospital administrators.

“It says that not only is the community in general watching you, the medical community is watching you, too,” he said.


New England Jewish Labor Committee writes open letter to members of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

The Jewish Labor Committee supports 1199SEIU’s and the Area Trades Council’s efforts to refocus Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on its mission to serve its community, treat patients compassionately, and foster a work environment based on mutual respect and collaboration. We know that patients receive better care when a hospital administration values its workers and treats them with respect.

Click here to read the rest of the letter (PDF).


Healthcare workers launch "Eye on Beth Israel" project, say hospital veering from mission

New watchdog website links labor, financial and patient concerns at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center hospital

The “Eye on B.I.” public information campaign will utilize a variety of media and grassroots organizing components to reach hospital patients and taxpayers. Those components will include a massive advertising blitz, including signs and mobile billboards, a new interactive website,, and other public outreach activities in the coming days.

It is a project of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East  and the Area Trades Council. has been created by people who believe in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s mission of  “service to community,” treating “ patients compassionately,” and fostering a work environment based on “mutual respect and collaboration.” Both the former Beth Israel and Deaconess hospitals have proud histories. Many of us have received loving care at these institutions over the years. Together, these institutions have offered generations of family members both employment and quality care.

Click here for press release