Merger of Major New York Health Care Unions Coincides with Neutrality Legislation

Health care members of SEIU 1199Upstate and 1199 SEIU have approved a plan to create one statewide union by an overwhelming margin. "This is an historic moment for our union," said 1199 SEIU President Dennis Rivera. "Health care workers will now be stronger because we speak with one voice, and pool our resources for more effective bargaining, organizing, and political action."

The merger, effective January 1, 2003, was unanimously recommended by the governing boards of both organizations. SEIU 1199Upstate is composed of 17,000 hospital and nursing home workers in an area extending from the St. Lawrence River Valley to southwest of Buffalo.1199Upstate was formed three years ago by the merger of three health care employee local unions based in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse.

SEIU 1199 is composed of 220,000 health care and human service workers from the New York metropolitan area, Long Island, Hudson Valley, and the Capitol district. Its ranks have also increased in recent years through mergers with two large downstate nursing home worker locals, a homecare local, and a local in the Albany region.

Both unions have been lining up collective bargaining agreements at hospitals and nursing homes for a coordinated effort in 2005. In addition, the legislative goals of the new union include nurse staffing levels, a ban on mandatory overtime, and employment standards for all health care workers' contracts across the state.

Editor's Note: Experienced Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist health care employers concerning these issues.