National President Of SEIU Joins Hartford Nursing Home Strikers
May 21, 2010
The new national president of SEIU joined about 50 picketers at Park Place nursing home in Hartford, to support a strike that has lasted five weeks and shows no signs of ending soon.
The 387 workers at four Spectrum nursing homes have been without a contract since March 2009.
Mary Kay Henry, who became president of Service Employees International Union last week, told the strikers that the other 300,000 nursing home union members haven't heard about their stand yet, but she's going to let them know about it, and she thinks they'll be incredibly thrilled by their stance.
She told them her first job for the union in 1980 was organizing a nursing home. She said how one woman told her, "I'm not sure I can stand for the union, because I'm afraid I'll lose my job."
The union members nodded in understanding. But that woman did sign up, and the nursing home did become union.
Nationwide, just 10 percent of nursing home workers are unionized, but it's 30 percent in Connecticut – the highest in the country.
Spectrum Chief Financial Officer Sean Murphy said the two sides were very close to an agreement before the strike, and said both sides have grown father apart during negotiations. He said the union workers, who previously agreed to a 2 1/2 percent raise, now are asking for 20 percent over five years. The company has countered with no guaranteed raises over five years, instead saying wages will rise — or be cut — in tandem with state Medicaid reimbursements.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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