A New Turn at 1199

A New Turn at 1199

The beleaguered New York City hospital workers’ union, Local 1199, shows signs of renewal. In a rare break with the power of union incumbency, the scandal-ridden regime of President Doris Turner was narrowly defeated in a late-April ballot monitored by the Department of Labor. The final tally shows the opposition “Save Our Union” slate—led by social worker Georgianna Johnson and backed by a coalition of forces with ties to the union’s old Leon Davis leadership—with 19,381 votes to 17,017 for Turner. There was an unprecedented 54 percent turnout. This is probably the biggest win by union insurgents since Ed Sadlowski’s 1974 victory for the Steelworkers’ district directorship. As those who have followed the tangled recent history of Local 1199 might suspect (see “Bread and Roses, Crusts and Thorns,” Dissent, Spring 1986), the vote tally itself does not immediately resolve the bitter internal dispute within the union. A series of legal challenges may well delay president-elect Johnson’s installation—just as crucial citywide hospital bargaining talks are set to begin.

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