Nursing home workers at Alameda Center for Rehabilitation & Healthcare today announced a 24-hour strike beginning at 5 a.m. on Wednesday. Workers authorized their bargaining committee to call a strike after over a year of stalled negotiations during which the new owner, Eli Frankel, has sought significant cuts to job standards at the for-profit facility.
Some 150 caregivers, members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, have been working without a raise for nearly 4 years, according to Bryn Lloyd-Bollard, spokesman for 1199. Alameda now wants to drastically shift costs onto employees by gutting wages, health and time off benefits for new hires, the spokesman said. Workers are concerned that these cuts will jeopardize caregivers’ livelihoods and increase staff turnover.
Alameda Center has been brought to trial by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for committing numerous unfair labor practices since the new ownership took over in April, 2016. Last summer, 1199SEIU filed charges with the NLRB after employees reported that Alameda Center had failed to make any of the required contributions to the nurses’ retirement plan, and unilaterally quadrupled health insurance co-payments for staff in the laundry department. In addition, the employer has unlawfully refused to meet with the union to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement for the licensed practical nurses (LPNs), Lloyd-Bollard said. The nursing home has yet to remedy these issues, and after a thorough investigation the NLRB decided to prosecute Alameda for violating federal law. A trial began on March 28 and is currently underway.
“We’ve done everything we can to reach a fair settlement with Alameda at the bargaining table,” said Diane Speckman, a certified nursing assistant with 30 years of service. “We’d rather be working instead of going on strike, but we can’t let Alameda continue to make it harder for us to support our families and care for our residents.”
“I’ve seen first-hand the compassionate care and love that workers at Alameda give to their patients,” said Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz. “I am calling on Alameda Center to do the right thing for Perth Amboy and invest in the type of good jobs that are essential to attracting and retaining skilled caregivers in our community.”
“It is patently wrong for Alameda Center to seek huge concessions from low-income caregivers at a time when they are already struggling to make ends meet at home,” said Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU. “Decent jobs for healthcare workers are vital to ensuring continuity of care for residents. Alameda needs to bargain in good faith and reach an agreement that provides caregivers with the personal and financial security they need to deliver the best care possible.”