Last week, for-profit nursing homes employees got an early Christmas present when they agreed to a new contract with their employers.
However, the workers, represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, were still picketing in front of Campbell Hall Nursing Home in the Hudson Valley. They’re the last (among the 250 for-profit nursing homes) to hold out on the deal. Campbell Hall is almost 60 miles by car north of New York City.
The deal adds protected job status for workers with 10 or more years on the job. It also adds Juneteenth to the list of official holidays.
When the AmNews contacted Campbell Hall, owner Gerald “Jerry” Wood III said that those deals are for New York City Homes and not his.
“I’ve always negotiated with 1199 separately and don’t see why that should change now,” said Wood. “We are not a part of that deal.”
The contract awaits union ratification.
“This is a strong contract that recognizes the sacrifices our nursing home workers have made caring for everyone else’s loved ones and provides them with the continued means to care for their own families,” said George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU, in a statement. “From raises to an in-hand bonus, workers can rest better knowing their efforts aren’t just being recognized with banners outside of their facilities and catered lunches, but with the respect and dignity they have earned as heroes.”
As part of the three-year deal, workers will receive a wage increase of 3.5% in 2021 and 3% in 2022 and 2023. The new contract doesn’t touch health care and pension benefits.
Greshman also thanked New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul for stepping in and getting involved in negotiations. Hochul thanks the workers for their perseverance.
“After days of intense discussion and collaboration, I am proud to have facilitated a fair agreement with 1199SEIU and the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association that protects working people and nursing home residents,” stated Hochul. “In the midst of a deadly public health crisis, it’s imperative that New Yorkers living in long-term care facilities receive the care they deserve. At the same time, we need to ensure the hard-working women and men who work in these facilities are treated with dignity and respect.”
Workers expressed gratitude for the new deal.
“This contract is another step closer for getting the middle class out of poverty, and it teaches us that when we stand together, things change,” said Michelle Williams, a dietary aide who works at the Split Rock Rehabilitation Center in the Bronx’s
Baychester neighborhood. “When we stand as one voice it makes others [including management] stop and listen––that is an accomplishment in and of itself and I’m glad we achieved that.”
But the victory remains bittersweet with Campbell Hall workers walking out for 24 hours due to their employer’s refusal to join the other for-profit nursing homes on the contract.
Certified nursing assistant and 8-year Campbell Hall employee, Gerard Lederer said that he deserves some sort of financial thank you for his work.
“We care every day for our residents, and we need management to care for us—to treat us fairly for the important work we do,” stated Lederer. “I contracted COVID from an outbreak at my nursing home last month, and it was emotional having to stay away from my 18-month-old son during quarantine. The sacrifices we make as healthcare workers should be respected, and that means having access to decent healthcare and fair wages.
“Nursing homes all over New York just settled a fair contract—why not us? We’re not second-class workers.”