New Jersey 1199ers at Regency Grande Nursing Home Fight for First ContractJuly 14, 2014
199SEIU members at Regency Grande Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Dover, NJ, made a showing of strength and unity at an energetic picket in front of their nursing home on July 10. For hours, caregivers chanted, drummed, and drew honks of solidarity from passing motorists as they demanded long-overdue job improvements.
1199ers are fighting to win a first contract after going years without wage increases or affordable health benefits. Workers earn as little as $8.25 an hour, the state minimum wage, and many do not have access to healthcare benefits for themselves or their families. As a result, caregivers are concerned that high turnover among staff is disrupting the continuity of care that residents need.
Martha Uribe, a certified nursing assistant, has worked at Regency Grande for two and a half years and is not offered health insurance. She is pregnant and has enrolled in Medicaid to get the care she needs. “It’s not right,” she says. “We need healthcare to keep our families healthy and so we can focus on our jobs and caring for our residents.”
“I live with my mom and my brother, and between the three of us we work several jobs to make ends meet,” said Joel Molares, who works at Regency Grande as a cook. “The cost of living is going way up but I’ve never received a raise in my years working here.”
The workers’ struggle has drawn broad support from the community, with dozens of local businesses putting up signs of solidarity in their windows and hundreds of concerned community members signing postcards to send to Regency Grande management urging them to agree to a fair contract.
With the public on their side, 1199SEIU members are determined to win a big victory at Regency Grande and will continue the fight to make sure that caregivers have dignity and respect in the workplace.