This week, workers at two nursing homes owned by the Genesis Healthcare Corporation in Rhode Island voted to approve new collective bargaining agreements. Workers at Genesis Skilled Nursing & Rehab in Greenville and Pawtucket had been negotiating with management for more than eight months. The company tried to increase the cost of our health insurance to $105 a week for family coverage, with out-of-pocket costs of up to $6,000. In February, management demanded that workers accept its “Last, Best, and Final” offer and threatened to replace us if we went on strike.
But we didn’t back down — 1199 members came together and fought back. We conducted informational picketing, passed out leaflets, put ads in local newspapers, and got elected officials to support us. We succeeded in pressuring the company to improve its offer — giving us a bigger raise, reducing the weekly cost of insurance, and offering to reimburse a big chunk of what we pay for prescription drugs, deductibles, and other health care costs. Though it’s not perfect, the final agreement is major improvement from what the company demanded we accept back in February – and it never would have happened without the unity and perseverance of all of the 1199 members at both facilities.
Unfortunately for workers at Genesis’ non-union facilities in Rhode Island – Coventry Skilled Nursing & Rehab, Grandview in Cumberland, Grand Islander in Middletown, Kent Regency in Warwick, and Warren Skilled Nursing & Rehab – they are forced to accept whatever the company demands. That why we need to help them unite together and join with us – so that together we can fight to improve our working conditions and the quality of care that we can deliver, to lower the cost of health insurance insurance, and ensure respect on the job. If you know anyone who works at any of the unorganized Genesis facilities, call the Union today at (401) 457-5099 to learn what you can do to help them gain respect and a voice at work.
Thankfully, we are already making progress on that front — as this week nearly 20 Registered Nurses at the Greenville Skilled Nursing & Rehab beat back management’s court appeal of the National Labor Relations Board decision affirming the nurses’ right to join the union and ordering management to bargain with us in good faith. The RNs voted in October of 2010 to join the union by vote of 18 to 0, but the company appealed the NLRB decision, claiming that all of the nurses were supervisors in an effort to deny these frontline caregivers the right to have a voice at the workplace.
The decision by the US Court of Appeals brings an end to more than 18 months of legal delays. Congratulations to our newest 1199 members, who can finally enjoy the right that every health care worker deserves to stand up and speak out for better patient care and better working conditions in our facilities!