SUNNYSIDE, Wash. – Nov. 13 – Dozens of nursing home workers picketed November 13 outside a Sunnyside nursing home calling for respect for workers so they may provide the best care for residents.
Nursing home workers in the region have been battling nursing home operators for months. Workers in Union Gap went days without pay; they filed successful lawsuits for unpaid vacation time; and now workers are bargaining with the current owners, Prestige Healthcare LLC, for workplace respect and dignity.
“We are working at nearly poverty wages to care for the most vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities,” said Celia “Sally” Salinas, of Sunnyside. She’s a Prestige Care & Rehabilitation Sunnyside worker and a member of SEIU Healthcare 775NW. “It’s time for Prestige to show workers dignity and respect; what everyone would expect for the care of these residents and the people who provide the care.”
Workers have been in negotiations with Prestige Care Inc., which owns and operates more than a dozen nursing homes in Washington.
Many of these same Tri-Cities and Yakima workers lost wages and healthcare at the same time Prestige took responsibility for these facilities late last year from Eagle Healthcare. Union members in February filed suit against Eagle Healthcare and former owner Jeff Marshall seeking unpaid vacation time and damages. On Friday, a King County court ordered both defendants to pay workers back wages and vacation time, plus interest and attorneys fees.
The Federal government also agreed to hear a series of legal charges made by union caregivers against Prestige. The National Labor Relations Board will be holding a hearing on the charges scheduled for Dec. 17 in Richland.
SEIU 775NW caregivers stood side by side with airport workers in SeaTac in support of Proposition 1, the SeaTac $15 minimum wage. The vote tally is close, but the living wage initiative is still ahead.
“Voters in SeaTac have just done what Congress and CEOs wouldn’t,” said David Rolf, SEIU Healthcare 775NW President. “SeaTac’s minimum wage victory is a historic first step towards a living wage for all workers.”
Proposition 1 also calls for annual increases tied to inflation, paid sick leave and tip protection. It would require employers to offer part-time workers more hours before hiring additional part-timers, and to keep employees for at least three months after an ownership change.
Paving the way for the next decade, the 11th Annual SEIU Healthcare 775NW Convention and Leadership Conference kicked off Friday in Seattle with a call to life caregivers out of poverty; build powerful sustainable and scalable worker organizations; transform healthcare and long-term care; and increase prosperity while decreasing inequality.
SEIU 775 David Rolf told more than 500 caregivers from Washington and Montana that there’s much to celebrate.
“I am thrilled to be able to report that there is no home care contract better than ours,” Rolf said. The individual provider contract includes raises this year and next. Starting pay will increase to $11/hour and, for the first time, experienced caregivers will make $15/hour.
“We protected health care, paid time off, dental and vision coverage, L&I, and mileage reimbursement,” Rolf said. “We also protected parity for our agency providers that has already translated into major contract victories in the private sector.”
Rolf’s keynote address outlined the economic landscape for the nation. He encouraged caregivers to expand their vision for how union members can make a difference.
“What will be remembered most of all is, when the American dream and the American middle class faced their darkest hour and were at their greatest level of risk, whether or not some bold and courageous group of working people took up the challenge of fighting back, of never backing down, and of raising every voice for a different future,” Rolf said.
Individual providers, agency workers and nursing home employees came arrived at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle for two days of programs. Follow all the exciting events at Seiu775.org, follow us on Twitter @seiu775 or on Facebook.
Nursing Home workers from Washington, Montana and Oregon sent delegates to present petitions to Prestige, Empres and Avamere management to address staffing issues and fight for better healthcare and wages. Thousands of you signed these petitions. Send a message of support to our nursing home brothers and sisters fighting for fair contracts to address staffing issues and improve healthcare and wages for nursing home workers.
We won our new IP contract – let’s celebrate!
This is a historic contract that took the combined effort of thousands of members. We’ll all get at least $0.50/hr this July and again next July. (If you have at least 7 years of full-time experience and 14001 hours, you’ll see your pay increase to more than $14/hr in the next 2 years.) And there’s more:
Additional raises of $0.25/hr for home care certification and for advanced training;
Increased mileage reimbursement starting in 2014;
Cost of certification paid;
A modest increase in paid time off; and
Continuation of the gains we made in previous contracts.
Across the world on May 1, workers celebrated International Worker’s Day. Commemorating a Chicago strike in 1886, for an 8-hour work day, May 1st has come to represent a day of celebration for many, where workers participate in parades, festivals, and rallies.
Thousands rallied in Seattle on May Day to demand better protections for workers around the world and for comprehensive immigration reform.
International Worker’s Day 2013 takes on additional special meaning this year, as the drumbeat for immigration reform gets louder and louder.
SEIU locals and allies throughout the country are taking to the streets! Add your voice to the conversation on Twitter using hash tag #TimeIsNow.
Nursing home workers from across the state visited their legislators to urge them to approve Medicaid expansion to provide quality, affordable healthcare for all nursing home and long-term care workers. Many nursing home workers struggle to afford quality, affordable health coverage. The Legislature should adopt Medicaid Expansion to provide coverage to long-term care workers and our families. The program will include an influx of federal dollars that will result in the state saving $225 million in the current biennium. Plus, the program will create 10,000 new jobs in our state.
Tell the legislature to stand up for caregivers!