Education

Drug & Hospital Employees Union, "Everybody Supports Local 1199," c. 1963


Historical Context
American labor unions arose out of the need for workers to organize themselves and work together to demand fair wages, safety in the workplace, and job security. A collective voice could not be ignored by employers as easily as individual protests, and workers who banded together could engage in strikes and other joint activities to strengthen their hand in bargaining with management.  In the 1950s, hospital employees were not yet unionized, and labor laws that were being put into effect at the time did not apply to them.  Early attempts to organize hospital workers focused mostly on skilled labor.  In 1957, Local 1199 began to reach out to these workers. Hospital workers in the early 1950s were badly underpaid and were confronted with a management that regarded unionization as totally inappropriate for health care institutions.



Local 1199 first began as a pharmacists’ union, but it encouraged and supported diversity among its membership from the very beginning.  It is not surprising, therefore, that the union reached out to the population of mostly Black and Hispanic hospital workers. Its first major success occurred in 1958, when it succeeded in organizing the employees of Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx in New York City. This success led to increased membership, and by 1963, membership had quadrupled.  Racial diversity within Local 1199 naturally led it to become involved in the struggle for civil rights during the 1960s, and it subsequently became a political force that fought for equality and the improvement of living conditions in minority neighborhoods in New York City.
Essential Question
How do immigrants impact the economy and culture of a community?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main purpose of this poster and explain why this message is targeted toward certain ethnic groups.
[click to enlarge]
Everybody Supports Local 1199 , Kheel Center for Labor Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University, KHE_5510_B48F5_161
Document Description
Recruitment flyer for the Drug & Hospital Employees Union, Local 1199, in English and Spanish, ca. 1963.
Questions
  1. According to the document, what has Local 1199 been fighting to wipe out?
  2. What “crusader for justice” told hospital workers to join Local 1199?
  3. Why would it be important to print this information sheet in both English and Spanish?
  4. Do you think everybody supported Local 1199?  Can you think of anyone who might be against this union?
Historical Challenge
One of the men in the photo in this document is A. Philip Randolph, head of the Pullman Porters Union and one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Find out more about Mr. Randolph by visiting the two pertinent websites listed in the Resources section.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Foreign Language/English as a Second Language: Use the bilingual aspect of this document to learn new vocabulary and grammar structure.
English Language Arts: Write a script for a television newscast that reports the message of Local 1199.
Resources
  1. http://www.apri.org/ht/d/sp/i/225/pid/225, A. Philip Randolph Institute
  2. http://www.aphiliprandolphmuseum.com/, A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum
  3. http://www.bread-and-roses.com/1199.html, “About 1199/SEIU”
  4. http://www.aflcio.org/aboutus/history/history/100years.cfm, AFL-CIO, “100 Years of Struggle”
  5. http://www.lclaa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=168&Itemid=109, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, “About Us”


  6. http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/reference/hisref.htm

    New York State Library. "Selected Hispanic and Latino Websites."

     
  7. Ronald L. Filippelli. Labor in the U.S.A.: A History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.
  8. Leon Fink and Brian Greenburg. Upheaval in the Quiet Zone (The Working Class in American History). Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989. ISBN 0-252-06047-4. Information on the early history of 1199.
  9. Max Foner and Dan North. Not For Bread Alone: A Memoir. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002.
  10. Robert H. Zieger and Gilbert J. Gall. American Workers, American Unions: The Twentieth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.