7/20/2010, 10:48 a.m.
Veronica Turner, a former employee of Boston Medical Center, was elected recently to the top leadership position of 1199 SEIU, one of the state’s largest and most politically active labor unions.
Turner is the first African American woman to head a major labor union in Massachusetts. Turner ran unopposed and was supported in her candidacy by 1199 SEIU’s outgoing Massachusetts leader Mike Fadel.
A resident of Brockton, Turner was born in Dorchester and began her career at Boston Medical Center in the dietary department. She later became a unit secretary and unit coordinator in the hospital before joining the union staff as an organizer in 1999.
Turner emerged as a natural leader of her peers during the historic merger of Boston City Hospital and Boston University Medical Center in the 1990s — a time fraught with uncertainty for caregivers at both hospitals.
As a rank and file leader, Turner helped secure the first union contract for SEIU members within the newly formed Boston Medical Center and was elected vice president when the former SEIU Local 2020 merged with the powerful multi-state Local 1199 in 2005. Since Turner’s election to vice president, 1199 SEIU has more than tripled in size in Massachusetts, and has become a strong voice for workers in the state’s health care industry.
As the new executive vice president of the union in Massachusetts, Turner will hold the union’s highest post in the Commonwealth, and hopes to continue the track record of success that 1199 SEIU has established since its inception in 2005.
“Health care is the engine of the Massachusetts economy,” said Turner. “Our state needs to make sure health care jobs enable workers to support a family and invest in our local economy. ”
Representing more than 35,000 health care workers throughout Massachusetts, and 370,000 workers in Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, and Washington, D.C., 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing health care union in America. 1199 SEIU is part of the 2.1 million member Service Employees International Union.