Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Putting the "You" in Union

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1999


In early August 1975, Jo Ann Martin, a licensed practical nurse at Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, received a letter and a couple of leaflets from New York City, set- ting in motion a sequence of events that changed the lives of her and her co-workers at the hospital forever. The material came from Robert L. Muehlenkamp, assistant director of organization for Local 1199, the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. Muehlenkamp informed Martin that "tens of thousands of hospital workers in twenty-two states," capitalizing on 1974 legislation that extended federal labor law protections to hospital employees, had joined 11 99 in the past year. Membership was open to all non-supervisory hospital employees. He encouraged Martin to talk to employees in the different departments of the hospital, and contact him if the workers at Highlands Regional were interested in organizing (Muehlenkamp 1975).