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Delmar nursing home employees planning strike

Emily Burkhard
Updated: January 14, 2020 07:31 PM
Created: January 14, 2020 06:25 PM

DELMAR - Nursing home staff at Good Samaritan Village in Delmar are threatening to go on strike next week. That's after they learned the facility's management company, The Lutheran Care Network, is looking to sell the property, and could take away health benefits in the process.

In December, TLCN filed for bankruptcy. The company is now trying to sell the properties to a for-profit company called Centers Health Care.

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Representatives from 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East said CHC won't move forward with negotiations until employee health benefits are taken off the table.

On Saturday, staff from Good Samaritan and Kenwood Manor voted to strike for three days next week if their benefits continue to be threatened.

While they were voting, management staff called Bethlehem police to the property. They claimed workflow was disrupted by the vote. It's alleged that management was also taking pictures of which staff members went to vote on striking.

Leaders with 1199SEIU have filed an unfair labor practice lawsuit in response. They said management was trying to intimidate members from voting on the issue.

Staff members said they feel going on strike is their only option.

"We've given up a lot. We already work short. Sometimes, I've worked on a unit on aid, by myself," Certified Nursing Assistant Rita Hyman said. "You know we're here, we're in it for the long-haul, but you're forcing our hand to make a decision we don't want to make."

They plan to strike from January 24 until January 26. Representatives from 1199SEIU have issued a 10-day strike notice to management.

One Good Samaritan Village patient came outside the home on Tuesday to show his support.

"It's been a lot of tension and it's created a lot of problems for the staff," Paul John Kaczmarek said.

Some staff members said they've had difficulty getting updated information from TLCN. John Makoii, who has worked at Good Samaritan for 18 years, said the lack of clarity has made planning for his family's future much harder.

"Up to this point, they never made time to pass the information to us. So we try on our own to find out the right information," Makoii said. "So that's why we know something doesn't smell right, so for them not to pass the information means that something doesn't smell right."

1199SEIU representatives said they'll continue to negotiate in good faith.

"We would love to see a new operator come in and agree to respect the priorities of the members, especially keeping their health benefits so we can stabilize the home," 1199SEIU Hudson Valley Division Director Greg Speller said.

TLCN has until Jan. 22 to make another payment towards the health care benefits. Staff members said they are hopeful the company will do the right thing to ensure they get the coverage they need.

Speller said if TLCN or CHC decides to keep benefits in the sale negotiations, they can cancel the plans to strike.


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