Education

Strike Registration Flyer, Drug & Hospital Employees Union, Local 1199, 1960


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.



Unions use tactics like work slowdowns, pickets, or strikes to place pressure on management in order to negotiate a better package of benefits and/or wages for their members.
Essential Question
How do immigrants impact the economy and culture of a community?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main purpose of this flyer and explain why this message is targeted toward certain ethnic groups.
[click to enlarge]
Strike registration , Kheel Center for Labor Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University, KHE_5510_B48F7_162
Document Description
Flyer instructing hospital workers to register for a strike, from the Drug & Hospital Employees Union, Local 1199, AFL-CIO, in English and Spanish, June 16, 1960.
Questions
  1. What preparations are Local 1199 asking their members to make before the strike begins?
  2. How difficult do you think it will be for poor workers to go without their pay while they are on strike?
  3. What is the date the strike will begin if no agreement is made?
  4. Why do you think workers must register for the strike?
  5. Why is the flyer printed in both English and Spanish?
Historical Challenge
Research the 1909 strike by ladies’ garment workers. Compare and contrast this strike to the hospital workers’ strike in 1960. Use a T-chart or Venn diagram to organize your research.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Foreign Language/English as a Second Language: Use the side-by-side English and Spanish versions of this instruction flyer to learn new vocabulary and grammar structure.
Art: Create a picket sign that might be used during this strike.
Resources
  1. http://www.bread-and-roses.com/1199.html, “About 1199/SEIU”
  2. http://www.aflcio.org/aboutus/history/history/100years.cfm, AFL-CIO, “100 Years of Struggle”
  3. http://www.lclaa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=168&Itemid=109, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, “About Us”
  4. http://www.nps.gov/archive/elro/glossary/ilgwu.htm, “International Ladies Garment Workers Union 1900–1995”
  5. http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/reference/hisref.htm, New York State Library. "Selected Hispanic and Latino Websites."
  6. Ronald L. Filippelli. Labor in the U.S.A.: A History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.
  7. 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.
  8. Max Foner and Dan North. Not For Bread Alone: A Memoir. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002.
  9. Robert H. Zieger and Gilbert J. Gall. American Workers, American Unions: The Twentieth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.