1199C @ 25
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Journalists Maida Odoms and Heshimu Jaramogi teamed up to film this moving portrait of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees Local 1199C as it marked its 25th anniversary. Today many Americans take unions (and the benefits they've helped make a normal part of the country's workplace culture) for granted. 1199C @ 25 travels back more than 25 years to the early 1970s when voting to form a union was an invitation to job loss, blacklisting and other punishments from area hospital management.
Today, members of 1199C have, according to its members, the best pension plan of any workers in the region. But back then, the average wage for a health care worker in the Philadelphia area was $1.80. No benefits. No social security. No retirement funds. No paid time off. Health care workers literally couldn't afford to get sick.
When members of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees began to try and unionize Philadelphia area health care workers, they had to first introduce the idea of dignity and respect, noting that the only thing menial about the work of hospital nurses, janitors, lab technicians, etc. was their hourly wage.
1199C @ 25 thoughtfully details the gathering momentum of the fight for unionization -- from hospital threats and scare tactics including the murder of hospital worker and union organizer Norman Rayford in the summer of 1972, to strikes, managerial bullying and finally, the grudging but offical recognition of the union by all regional hospitals.
The fight for unionization led to two unusual concessions on the part of area hospitals: A lgeal paid holiday to commemorate union martyr Norman Rayford and the establishment of the District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund. Today, with National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees president Henry Nicholas still at the helm, 1199C is active on behalf of not just its own 20,000 members, but as a proud supporter of labor battles across the region.
Union officials regularly screen the video to members, visitors and students, often at the union's training center in center City Philadelphia.
Maida Odom was reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years, and is currently a professor at Temple University's School of Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising. She is also an active member of the Scribe Video Center board of directors.
Heshimu Jaramogi , a 20-year journalism professional, is the publisher of The Neighborhood Leader and the Frankford News, two community newspapers in Philadelphia. He is a longtime broadcast journalist, producing news (WDAS, WPEN, WCAU) and public affairs (WPEN, WRTI & WHYY) programs for commercial and public radio stations in Philadelphia. This includes stints covering the city administration and City Council in Philadelphia for WDAS radio, serving as a local correspondent for the American Urban Radio Network. He also served as a local correspondent for the National Black Network and Sheridan Broadcasting Network in the 1980s. Jaramogi has worked as a public relations consultant to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and several community-based clients in Philadelphia and Chicago.
June 13, 2002 - Brief mention in repertory listings of Philadelphia City Paper
June 21, 2002 - "Union Celebrates with Documentary," by Bobbie Booker, The Philadelphia Tribune
Public Screenings, Broadcasts and Festivals:
June 15, 2002 - Prince Music Theater (Philadelphia, PA)