Union County Sheriff and state Senator-elect Joe Cryan came out in support of workers at the AristaCare at Delaire Nursing Home in Linden this week as they held an afternoon prayer vigil urging the owners to restore benefits and settle a fair contract. AristaCare slashed benefits when they bought the facility this summer.
The nursing home’s certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. The union is in contract negotiations with AristaCare. Caregivers overwhelmingly have voted to authorize the bargaining committee to call a strike if AristaCare doesn’t restore the cuts and settle the contract fairly.
Cryan lauded the five dozen workers who gathered between shifts for their courage in “stepping out and being a part of this.” He pledged to do what he could to help them.
The Union County Freeholders also are expected to issue a resolution in support of the caregivers later this month. Linden Mayor Derek Armstead and Freeholder Angel Estrada this week sent letters to Sidney Greenberger, Chairman/CEO of AristaCare Health Services, urging him to “do the right thing and restore the benefits and settle a fair contract.”
“The benefits now are awful, especially if you have family, our members can’t afford it,” said Odell Hill, who has worked as a CNA at Delaire for 25 years. The caregivers are now being required to pay about $1000 a month for family health coverage.
Many said they wanted to avoid a strike and were concerned about short staffing at the 240 bed long-term care facility.
Short staffing has led to heavy workloads for many workers, who make about $12.50 per hour. “My job is never done,” said Yolanda Joseph, who works in the laundry. “There’s not time even for a lunch break.”
“We love our residents like they are family. But we have been left with no choice but to authorize our bargaining committee to call a strike if AristaCare won't restore our benefits and settle a fair contract,” said Monalise Jeannoute, a CNA who has worked at Delaire since 1990, who spoke last week at the Union County freeholder board meeting.
“As the holidays approach, it is unconscionable that Delaire healthcare workers continue to face the cold reality of unaffordable healthcare and drastic cuts to other benefits including retirement and sick leave,” said Milly Silva, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East. “AristaCare agrees that the insurance they are offering is unaffordable but they have yet to propose an affordable one. The Delaire caregivers deserve better than this and we are grateful for the growing public support from the community.”
Contact: Ivette Mendez, 1199SEIU, 201.381.8572; Ivette.firstname.lastname@example.org