Aug. 19, 2008
 
SEIU District 1199 Elects Becky Williams as Union President
New Era Begins for Union
 
Special to Huntingtonnews.net
From an SEIU News Release
 
Columbus, Ohio (HNN) - Members of the Service Employees International Union District 1199 (SEIU District 1199), which represents certain workers at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington elected a woman to lead the 35,000 member union.
 
Rebecca (Becky) Williams, a Canton, Ohio native, will lead the health care, social service and public sector union.
 
“I will never forget what life was like as a working mother of four without the protection of a union,” Williams said in a press release. “My family's economic survival was on my shoulders. I faced the kind of struggle millions of Ohioans face today. I wanted to have a real voice on the job and a better future, so I exercised my voice and encouraged others to do the same. Now, 16 years later, I am so very glad I did.'
 
Williams’ journey with District 1199 began in 1991 when she successfully encouraged her co-workers to organize with District 1199. She joined the union staff as a full-time organizer the following year, eventually working her way up the ranks to be elected as an Executive Vice President, and now President.
 
“There is so much that I could say about Becky,” said Carol Lafferty, a nursing assistant and District 1199 member at Heartland of Beckley in West Virginia. “She is always considerate of the things that matter to workers, and I think she will set high goals to gain important victories for members.”
 
Her own struggles to organize and gain a voice on the job still guide her work today. “My goal is to ensure that every unorganized worker has an opportunity to join a union if he or she wants a union,” Williams said. 'In this new American century, I believe the work of unions to expand our middle class and protect our economic security matters more than ever.'
 
District 1199 member and rank-and-file Vice President Lynn Radcliff shared her feelings with regards to Williams’ election:
 
“The election of Becky Williams as President of SEIU District 1199 is a testament to the vision and commitment to leadership development of this Union,” Radcliffe said. “Having worked her way from a rank and file member, to a staff member, to Executive Vice President and now as President, Becky brings a wealth of experience and hard working ethics to the position. As the first female President of District 1199, it's the beginning of a new era in our Union. Together with our member leaders, we will continue our commitment to work for the respect, dignity and justice that our 35,000 members deserve on the job and in their daily lives.”
 
Williams will lead a team of 10 newly elected officers who are elected for a three-year term.
 
Carolyn Lafferty, Beckley, WV, will be West Virginia vice president and Al Bacon, Barboursville, WV, was elected executive vice president of the union.
 
District 1199 represents professional and paraprofessional workers in hospitals, nursing homes, mental health agencies, MR/DD facilities, Head Start agencies, institutions of higher learning, as well as persons employed by state and local government. The union administers over 200 collective bargaining agreements with employers across West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.
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