NJ Nursing Home Workers Kick Off Contract Talks With Genesis HealthCare

December 19, 2013

On December 12, 1199SEIU members kicked off contract negotiations for a group of 13 New Jersey nursing homes owned by Genesis HealthCare. The bargaining unit includes over one thousand healthcare workers who provide a range of essential care to elderly and disabled people across the state.

The Union’s bargaining committee is composed of 25 caregivers who together have more than 330 years of experience delivering frontline care in nursing homes. Their responsibilities include feeding, dressing, bathing, ensuring a safe and sanitary living environment, leading recreational activities, and giving emotional support and friendship to the residents of their facilities.

Jeanitha Louigene, who works at Troy Hills Center in Parsippany, is one of the caregivers taking part in negotiations. “It’s good to participate and be an example to my co- workers. I’ve worked here for 24 years, and I know that we have so much power as a union when we all work together to win the changes we need,” she said.

At the bargaining table, the committee reminded management that their nursing homes’ number one asset is staff who take pride in their jobs and are compensated fairly for the work they do. “The cost of living is going up, so it’s only right that we receive a modest pay increase too,” said Colleen Wehner, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Southern Ocean Center in Manahawkin. “Preserving affordable family health insurance is also crucial, because we need to be able to care for our loved ones.”

One primary concern of the bargaining committee is that as New Jersey’s population ages, acuity levels in nursing homes have been rising. Residents are, on average, older and have more health complications than in earlier years.

“Providing quality care to sicker residents is hard work and requires that we spend more time with each person,” explained Nevonne Tyndall, a CNA at Morris Hills Center in Morristown. “That’s why it’s so important that we have manageable workloads.”

In January, 1199SEIU members will be back at the bargaining table and ready do what it takes to win a contract that protects and improves their jobs and ensures that nursing home residents continue to receive the first-rate care they deserve.