This week, hundreds of 1199 SEIU hospital workers and students conducted a petition walk at NYU Tisch, delivering nearly 3,000 signatures from 1199 caregivers, and a letter to Dr. Robert I. Grossman, Dean and Chief Executive Officer of NYU Langone Health, demanding that a written guarantee be given that NYU will not seek to withdraw from the 1199 health, pension, child care and education funds in the union’s successor contract.
The union’s current contract expires in October. The demand came as a result of NYU Langone Medical Center’s decision in March of 2016 to withdraw from the League of Voluntary Hospitals, ending a collective bargaining relationship of fifty years.
Nearly 7,000 1199 caregivers provide critically important services to NYU’s patients, and Langone is one of the nation’s premiere academic medical centers, with facilities throughout the five boroughs of New York. Without the multi-employer bargaining relationship that was supplied by the League of Voluntary Hospitals, the union’s members are afraid that, come October, their benefits and retirement plans will be in extreme jeopardy.
In April, a month after the NYU announcement, Norma Amsterdam, 1199 SEIU Executive Vice-President, addressed a crowd of hospital workers, voicing their concerns, saying, “I’m so angry about this fight,” while 1199 SEIU Executive VP Veronica Turner said, “Our contract campaign will mimic the League campaign,” “[NYU Langone] has to answer to us — not the 5,000 members at NYU, Lutheran [Medical Center] and HJD [Hospital for Joint Diseases]. They have to answer to the 450,000 healthcare workers of 1199.”
The union filed charges at the National Labor Relations Board challenging NYU’s withdrawal from the League, and an administrative judge’s decision on the matter is currently pending. Meanwhile, union officials cite the current anti-labor climate as an environment in which working men and women are under attack, and stress the crucial role unions play in protecting them, “What would have happened to the working class people if not for the unions?” asked Amsterdam.