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.


Worcester Telegram & Gazette - State PCAs say yes to union label

After a legislative battle that gave them the right to organize and months of campaigning, Massachusetts personal care attendants have voted to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. The vote adds about 22,000 personal care attendants, or PCAs, to the union's ranks in Massachusetts and launches the first effort to negotiate higher pay and benefits for PCAs who get paid by MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program. Click here to read the full article.


Lowell Sun - Healthcare workers unionize

Over the phone, Steven Normandin sounds like a typical 20-something college student studying for a challenging major in Web development at Middlesex Community College. The Chemlsford resident, who also managers the Somerville public school Web site, faces a tougher struggle than work and school. Click here to read the full article at


Jewish Advocate newspaper on Free & Fair elections

(From the Jewish Advocate newspaper website.)

The history of Jewish Labor
by Ben Healey

A few weeks back, my colleague and friend Joe Gindi wrote in this space about the growing divide between interest-based politics and values-based politics in the decision-making processes of traditional Jewish “defense” organizations. He posited that the emerging contradictions between those two approaches could be traced in part to the Jewish community’s “rising class position,” and called for a return to a more universalistic approach to our community’s collective work in the world.

Joe is right about the defense organizations. But in this column I’d like to apply his framework more broadly to Jewish leadership outside of organizations that are not – or at least not only – Jewish.

Today, tens of thousands of residents of Greater Boston are working day in and day out to make ends meet, often at more than one job, and often with very limited benefit packages. Many of those workers are employees of the excellent teaching hospitals that provide so much of our region’s health care and drive such a large portion of our local economy. And as of a year ago, 1199SEIU – the health care workers’ union – has been trying to organize many of those workers, including those at Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center.

Now, let me pause here, and ask that you remember with me the critical role that Jews played in building the labor movement in this country. Remember how our community’s dedication to social justice, combined with the economic vulnerability of so many of our people, led generation after generation of American Jewish activists to help build powerful institutions dedicated to unifying and supporting working people. Remember that tradition, and feel proud.

Now come back to today and SEIU’s organizing efforts here in Boston – and learn that Paul Levy, the President of BIDMC, has made clear he wants no union at his hospital. Mr. Levy is of course entitled to his opinion, but what disappoints me most is not Mr. Levy’s statements – bosses discouraging workers from unionizing is nothing new in American history – but rather the silence on the part of the organized Jewish community in response.

Do we not still believe that working people deserve an organized and unified voice on the job? Do we not still believe that the unions that benefited our grandparents and our parents should benefit this generation of workers? And now that so many of us are professionals – with many of us running the biggest economic institutions in Boston – do we not still believe it is our responsibility to continue to work for social justice?

I want to put out a call to our community’s business leaders, and direct it first to Beth-Israel’s President: Mr. Levy, you are using your powerful position to stop workers from organizing. You can call it your First Amendment right to speak out, or your duty to your hospital, but your aggressive speech will silence others less powerful than yourself. To use Joe Gindi’s framework, you are practicing interest-based politics, not values-based. And that’s not what I hope for from my Jewish leaders.

Ben Healey is a co-coordinator of the Moishe/Kavod Jewish Social Justice House, located in Brookline's Washington Square. He can be reached at


Boston Globe - "City Council Endorses Labor Organizing Agreements"

In a show of support for an impending campaign by the Service Employees International Union to organize workers at Boston's teaching hospitals, city councillors voted 10-0 in favor of a resolution for hospital executives to sign "free and fair election agreements."

 Read the full article at

Boston Globe- "City Council endorses labor organizing agreements" (PDF)

Rich Rogers, head of the Council, recently wrote a letter to hospital board members urging them to begin a new relationship with workers at Boston hospitals.

Read his full letter (PDF).


Boston City Council says Yes (10-0) to Free & Fair union elections at Boston hospitals

Resolution tells Boston hospital CEOs to refrain from employee intimidation during union vote




 BOSTON, MA – Boston city councilors voted unanimously (10-0) on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 to approve a resolution to protect local hospital workers and patients. Local caregivers told the council they need help from elected officials to ensure Boston hospital executives do not intimidate or harass employees during secret ballot union elections. Caregivers are also concerned hospital executives will waste patient care resources on intimidation campaigns to interfere with employee voting rights.

“The time for this basic act of fairness has come,” said Councilor Michael Flaherty.

The city council resolution passed today calls on Boston hospital CEOs to sign “free and fair election agreements” pledging they will not intimidate hospital staff seeking to form unions or spend patient care dollars on campaigns to interfere with secret ballot union elections. The resolution also calls on the hospital chiefs to pledge they will not take caregivers away from the bedside or patient care duties to coerce their vote.

“There are many hospital workers who can’t afford health care. How wrong is that?” asked Councilor Stephen Murphy prior to the unanimous vote.

Last Tuesday, Mayor Thomas Menino and actor/activist Ben Affleck threw their support behind the health care workers’ effort. That same day, more than 800 hospital workers, elected officials, community advocates, and religious leaders took to the street in a rally and march in the Longwood medical area, backing the movement for free and fair union votes at Boston hospitals.

“The rally at Longwood medical area was an important moment for the future of our city and an important demonstration of the bravery of the workers who wore the purple shirts,” said Councilor Sam Yoon.

Also last Tuesday, local health care workers who have experienced management-led intimidation campaigns during union elections testified before the City Council labor and workforce development committee, explaining why such campaigns are unethical, create a negative atmosphere in the hospital, and are detrimental to patient care. Despite being asked to testify by the committee at the October 16 public hearing, none of the fourteen invited hospital CEOs attended.

Historically, local caregivers have been attacked by expensive and ferocious management-led campaigns of fear and intimidation to undermine their voting rights during union elections in Massachusetts hospitals. Many local hospital workers struggle with low wages, a lack of training and education opportunities, and without affordable health care for themselves or their families. Many area hospital workers who have dedicated decades of work to area hospitals cannot look forward to a retirement with security and dignity.


Hospital workers stage massive rally for Free & Fair elections; Affleck vows support

As scores of reporters, photographers and news cameras jammed the room at Boston City Hall, actor/director Ben Affleck and Mayor Thomas M. Menino stood side by side with local hospital workers to call for Free & Fair union elections. The high profile endorsements lifted the hospital workers' message to center stage in the Boston media.

Click here to read samples from the tidal wave of print and web media coverage.

Click here to view television news coverage of the event, which ran around the clock on Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

Ben Affleck, who grew up here and is raising his family in the Boston area, said Free & Fair elections are basic and reasonable, and would like workers to have a voice and feel respected if he ever needed to seek medical care.

"This is not a cheap city to live in and these folks are not asking for much," said Affleck.

Hospital workers Anestine Bentick and William Timmons spoke from first-hand experience about struggling to make ends meet and provide the best care in Boston's hospitals. Anestine also spoke of her experience with anti-worker campaigns when her and her co-workers tried to form a union not too long ago. Billy, standing with his baby daughter in his arms, said he had worked at Massachusetts General Hospital for over two decades and wanted to finally see his co-workers treated with respect and dignity.

Immediately following the press conference, the Boston City Council Labor and Workforce Committee heard testimony from local hospital workers, union leaders from a wide variety of industries, and community supporters. The council expressed support for a resolution calling on hospital CEOs to agree to Free & Fair elections for hospital workers. If passed, that resolution would declare that hospital workers should be Free to make up their own minds in Fair secret ballot votes. Such a Free & Fair election process, which has already been agreed to by dozens of hospitals throughout Massachusetts and the nation, would ensure quality patient care and good jobs for working families.

Hours after the hearing, hundreds of hospital workers, religious leaders, elected officials, community groups and patient advocates rallied in the Longwood Medical Area in a spirited show of unity. The rally was co-sponsored by 1199SEIU and the Boston Area Trades Council.

Rally speakers included Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, members of the state legislature including Marie St. Fleur, Greater Boston CLC Secretary Treasurer Rich Robers, Mass. AFL-CIO President Bob Haynes, hospital workers, and 1199SEIU President George Gresham.

In coming months, the effort to achieve Free & Fair union elections for hospital workers will only continue to grow and will become one of the most prominent issues concerning healthcare and working families throughout New England and the nation.

For more information: Call Corey Hope Leaffer at 617-284-1142.


Boston local news broadcasts cover free and fair union elections

Local Boston television channels 4, 5, 7, and 25 covered Mayor Menino and Ben Affleck standing with hospital workers on October 16 to announce their support for free and fair union elections in Boston hospitals.

5AM Tuesday, October 16 – CBS WBZ-TV Channel 4


6AM Tuesday, October 16 – CBS WBZ-TV Channel 4


6AM Tuesday, October 16 – NBC WHDH-TV Channel 7


Noon Tuesday, October 16 – ABC WCVB-TV Channel 5


5PM Tuesday, October 16 – FOX WFXT-TV Channel 25


6PM Tuesday, October 16 – ABC WCVB-TV Channel 5


6AM Wednesday, October 17 – NBC WHDH-TV Channel 7


State House News Service - Affleck dons union hat, supports hospital workers

Mayor Thomas Menino and actor Ben Affleck stood alongside hospital workers Tuesday morning to support their right to organize a union. "These folks aren't asking for much," Affleck said in a press conference in the mayor's office. For just a few seconds, Affleck donned a union hat, "even though purple isn't my color," he said, and urged hospital management to allow union workers "to simply organize." Menino said "This is a great day for our city. We are here to improve the lives of hard-working people." Hospital workers, including some already in unions, spoke out in support of organizing, estimating that tens of thousands of workers would be eligible to organize if hospital management allowed it. "I am here to say to the hospital bosses, be fair to those who care," said Anestine Bentick, a medical assistant at South Boston Health Center. Supporters of the unions are planning to rally through Longwood Medical Area at 4 pm today.

Firedoglake Blog - Ben Affleck, Boston Workers and Bad Faith Hospital CEOs

By: Jane Hamsher

You gotta give it up for Ben Affleck. The guy showed up yesterday for an event with no glitter and glam but a whole lot of people simply trying to better their lives — the healthcare workers at Boston’s teaching hospitals who are struggling to get the CEOs of these institutions just to agree to let them have a fair, supervised union election.

Read the full blog at


Associated Press - Affleck pushes for unionization of hospital workers

(AP Photo / Bizuayehu Tesfaye)

Affleck pushes for unionization of hospital workers

October 16, 2007

BOSTON --Ben Affleck was up early Tuesday after the Boston premiere of his directorial debut to support a citywide unionization effort for low-paid hospital workers.

Affleck, appearing with Mayor Tom Menino, smiled for the cameras and wore a Service Employees International Union baseball cap during a press conference at Boston's City Hall.

The SEIU wants to unionize 55,000 workers at Boston teaching hospitals and wants hospital executives to agree to allow union elections.

"I wanted to lend whatever help I could," Affleck said.

The Cambridge native is the son of a Harvard janitor. His new movie, "Gone Baby Gone," was shot in Boston.