Chris Woods, the former president of AFSCME District 1199C, was flanked by family members, supporters and elected officials during a news conference Friday in front of the union hall (Philadelphia Tribune photo).
By Ayana Jones
PHILADELPHIA — The leadership of District 1199C, has been removed from office by its national union, the National Union for Hospital and Healthcare Employees (NUHHCE).
On Thursday, a trustee and a deputy trustee were appointed to lead the local union, which represents thousands of Philadelphia’s health care workers.
Chris Woods, District 1199C’s former president, said NUHHCE placed 1199C into trusteeship for not paying the required “per capita” tax on members’ dues.
“The way this process goes with the dues is such a flawed system, so you’re always going to be behind. You can’t really control the employers. You do the best you can to get them to send the dues on time and when they come in you process it and you send it to where it’s supposed to go.”
He dismissed the trusteeship and issues surrounding the per capita tax as a political move.
“It’s not about per capita. It’s political,” Woods said.
The NUHHCE or other local union representatives could not be reached for comment as of the Tribune’s deadline.
Woods said he’s been facing issues since he became the union’s top official in 2019, replacing longtime president Henry Nichols in 2019. Nicholas was regarded as a dominant force in the area’s growing health-care industry, building Local 1199C to more than 11,000 members.
“Once Henry moved into emeritus, I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of people happy that a young guy such as myself would take over powerful union like 1199,” said Woods, who is 36. “I’ve been going through this for a long time.”
He spoke about those challenges during a press conference held Friday afternoon in front of 1199C’s union hall.
“Me and my team have accomplished a lot, but during this time I’ve probably been fighting through multiple attacks of harassment (and) slander and it’s been a very traumatic experience to endure,” said Woods.
“These folks have tried to break me but they have not been successful. This is just a minor detour.”
During the news conference, he was flanked by elected officials, union leaders, family and 1199C members who showed up in support.
“This is not the end for me,” Woods said. “This is just the beginning. I’ve given this union a lot of my time, my effort and my sweat. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done. I stand behind the work that I’ve done. I wish 1199C nothing but the best.”
Woods began to work with Local 1199C in 2007. He has worked on statewide campaigns to organize child-care workers, long-term care workers, nurses and behavioral-health technicians.
Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
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