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Caregivers with Baptist Nursing Home Vote Overwhelmingly to Join 1199SEIU

April 29, 2015
Workers and County Legislators Want Better Standards for Residents & Employees

Scotia, New York-On April 24, over 160 caregivers at Baptist Nursing and Rehabilitation Center voted overwhelmingly to join 1199SEIU, the largest and most powerful union voice for healthcare workers in New York State and nationwide. The new members include certified nursing assistants (CNAs), restorative aides, housekeeping, laundry, transport, and various other titles.

Caregivers at Baptist cited chronic short-staffing, supply shortages and a lack of respect from management as impacting their ability to provide the best quality of care to their residents. They reached out to 1199SEIU in order to improve resident outcomes, despite facing virulent anti-union sentiments from management. They chose 1199 because of the union’s proven success in maintaining good jobs for healthcare workers and quality care for communities. 1199, along with the workers, had asked management to agree to a code of conduct, which would have prevented the nursing home from pulling workers off of the floor during the election campaign. However, the administration refused to agree to this or any code of conduct.

With the support of 1199SEIU, the Baptist caregivers are confident that they will achieve vast improvements for both themselves and their residents. “We came together because we needed to make a change for our residents and ourselves,” said Amina Benjamin, a CNA who has been with Baptist for almost 18 years. “We feel great about this victory. It’s like a burden has been lifted off of our backs. Now, we can work to achieve better staffing levels, affordable healthcare, fair wages and respect!”

The Baptist caregivers were supported by Schenectady county legislators Karen Johnson, Gary Hughes, Philip Fields and Anthony Jasenski. These legislators penned a letter calling on management to respect the workers and their right to unionize, and conducted a walk-in of the facility.

“Many of the Baptist employees live in the county I represent, and I felt it was important that I support them in their effort for good jobs and improvements in care for the elderly and vulnerable members of our community,” said Mr. Fields. “By achieving good union jobs these workers will help improve our local economy and will be able to spend more time with their families, enriching the next generation.”

“We welcome the hardworking caregivers at Baptist Nursing Home to our union. With thousands of other 1199SEIU members in the Capital Region, they are raising standards for the entire community by standing up for quality health care for their residents,” said Maria Kercado, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU. “We are committed to negotiating a strong contract that will allow these dedicated workers to take care of themselves at the same time they take care of the sick, frail and elderly.”

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1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. We represent over 400,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.

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