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At 1199C here in Philadelphia we face a long, hot struggle. With wage and benefit re-openers we know management will do what they have done now for 40 years–demand givebacks. So we are preparing for a righteous fight in the streets of the city.

We are also doing all we can to defeat the Koch Brothers sponsored legislation that would destroy public employee unions, and we’re preparing for elections next fall.

And we are maintaining a full blown organizing program with campaigns amongst child care and homecare workers at hospitals and at nursing homes.

Henry Nicholas has been working for months to prepare the union for all these fights.

- In February the 1199 national board adopted a national organizing plan and moved $1
  million new dollars into organizing.

- In May we will change the structure of 1199C in Philly to a complete organizing union
  with every field staff responsible for organizing and for mobilization in the contract
  battles and elections ahead of us.

President Nicholas has never accepted the status quo nor inevitability. His whole life has been one of struggle. As he and I took a break yesterday to chat, he told me again of his childhood as the son of a sharecropper on a Mississippi cotton farm. He held his Daddy’s leg when the Ku Klux Klan night riders came to threaten his father, and his father stood them down with his shotgun daring them to, “Make your move. It’ll be the last one you make.”

At 17 he hopped a freight not even knowing where it was going. Henry wound up in Jackson, Miss. where he found the armed services recruiting center and signed up for the Navy.

The Navy sent him to New Orleans and from there to the Great Lakes training center.

Up from a Mississippi sharecropper’s life he rose to build the most progressive and one of the most militant unions ever in the United States.

Henry Nicholas is not just familiar with struggle, he is comfortable with struggle. He relishes a righteous fight.

Just as he did when the Klan came riding, Henry Nicholas is standing strong for his people.

Photo source: joyeuse on deviantArt

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