In just 16 days, 1,547 Florida union members voted to extend their contracts with their nursing home employers until after 2013. The decision to extend 35 contracts another year means 1199SEIU nursing home workers will be better positioned to win back important legislation like restoring 2.9 hours of care for Florida’s nursing home residents.
Having more 1199SEIU members in Florida mobilizing their communities to elect lawmakers who stand up for working families meant making a difficult choice of holding off on contract negotiations.
“At first, my co-workers did not want to wait until next year to negotiate our contracts because it would mean not getting our raises this year,” said Roberto Cougil, a CNA at Coral Gables Health and Rehab in Miami, who was instrumental in turning out 96 percent of his co-workers to vote. “I explained to them that we need more power to get the raises and to win back safe staffing. They understood the importance of the upcoming election and that we can’t achieve anything without unity.”
The decision made by 1199SEIU members reflects their commitment to bring justice not only for themselves, but for the greater good. With more 1199SEIU members knocking on doors and talking to voters, not only will they gain stronger political and community support as they negotiate their contracts. They can also win back 2.9 hours of bedside care for their residents and ensure that “Obamacare” receives funding so their families and communities have access to affordable healthcare.
“I voted to put my contract on hold because so many people don’t have health insurance, there aren’t enough jobs and we don’t know the future holds for our children,” said Monique Fucien, a CNA at Treasure Isle Care Center in Miami. “We have to make sure to put the right people in office. To do that, we have to vote, not sit and complain. Complaints get us nowhere.”
One of the highlights of the campaign was the explosive growth in new members and new leaders. Union members talked to their co-workers who had not joined the union and were able to sign up 129 new members.
“I signed up three new members at my facility because they knew extending their contracts was necessary and they wanted to make it happen,” said Gloria Frankson, a new union leader who works in the laundry department at The Parks Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Orlando. “It took a lot of phone calling, a lot of talking, and knowing that we got out so many people to vote made my whole week. Now I want to become an even more powerful leader!”