On Thursday, May 26, thirty two caregivers from Alaris Health at the Atrium, an assisted living facility in Jersey City, NJ, voted overwhelmingly to organize a union with 1199SEIU. The personal care attendants (PCAs) and certified medical assistants (CMAs) decided to organize after seeing the improvements that union membership brought to workers next door, at Alaris’ Hamilton Park nursing home which has been an 1199 facility for many years.

“We’re all very happy and we feel like we have a big load off our shoulders now that we’ve formed a union,” said Shira Hassan, a PCA. “What you work hard for you should have, like a fair wage and enough paid sick time so we can take care of ourselves.”

The workers received support and encouragement from 1199 members at Hamilton Park throughout their organizing drive. “It’s crazy that people on the other side of our building work just as hard as us but didn’t have any of the rights we do because they weren’t part of the union,” said Cheryl Roberts, a union delegate and certified nursing assistant at Hamilton Park. “Now that we’re all together in 1199, we have a united voice to speak out for our residents and improve our jobs.”

A few days before the union vote, Atrium PCAs Magie Dennis and Julina Straker were invited to the SEIU’s international convention in Detroit, where they met hundreds of other workers who are organizing unions across the country and participating in the Fight for $15 movement. “We were so elated and excited to see the power of everyone united, not just hearing about it but seeing our power in action. Being in the union is going to make a difference in our families’ lives!” said Magie.