Four Nursing Homes, One Fight for Justice

April 21, 2014

On April 16, 1199SEIU members working at four nursing homes owned by Alaris Health gathered together in North Bergen, NJ, with one goal in mind—to lay the groundwork for winning union contracts that will protect and improve their job standards in 2014 and beyond. The union’s current contracts at Alaris facilities expired earlier this year.

Despite working at different locations, the caregivers consider themselves to be part of the same struggle and believe it’s important to speak with one voice.

“We have strength through unity,” explains Denise Boyden, a certified nursing assistant with 30 years’ experience who is a member of the bargaining committee at Harbor View Health Center in Jersey City. “We have to stick together and support each other’s efforts to win fair contracts.”

That’s one lesson that she and other long-time 1199SEIU leaders are keen to share with their co-workers who were not around back in 2009. That year, Denise and hundreds of fellow 1199ers went on strike at Alaris’ facilities (then called Omni) in order to secure their contract. Members prevailed after months of difficult bargaining because they stood up as one to demand justice, enlisting the support of thousands of union and community members across the state.

In 2014, Alaris caregivers are eager to build on what they gained in 2009’s landmark contract victories. “We’re asking for modest wage increases, a pension plan that we can rely on when we retire, and affordable health insurance for our families,” says Denise. “If we’re not healthy, how can we help others?”