1199 began as New York City pharmacists’ Union in 1932 and New York City remains, to this day, the primary base of the organization. In 1959, the largely male, Jewish drugstore Union began to transform itself by launching drives to organize the city’s voluntary, not-for profit hospitals and their primarily female, African-American and Latino workers.
Today, 1199SEIU has some 200,000 members in New York City and Long Island. They include not only most of the city’s hospital workers but also tens of thousands of nursing home workers, homecare attendants and home health aides, workers in free-standing community clinics for mental health, mental retardation and substance abuse, and human service workers in the Legal Aid Society, Columbia and Yeshiva Universities and other non-healthcare facilities.
They are organized within the 1199SEIU internal structure along “health systems” lines, designed primarily for collective bargaining purposes to align with a restructured hospital industry with its networks of medical centers with their auxiliary satellite clinics, nursing homes and homecare agencies.
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