1199 Delegate to Return to Work after PicketApril 19, 2022
Damian Rivera, an1199 Delegate and CNA at Complete Care at Marcella Center in Burlington Twp., was fired without just cause the day after he and his co-workers attempted to bring health and safety concerns to management.
When management later refused to comply with an arbitrator’s decision to reinstate Rivera, members staged an informational picket in protest on March 25. A week later, just as this issue was going to press, management backed down and agreed to reinstate Rivera with full back pay and benefits.
The dispute began on January 13, when Rivera and about ten fellow workers at Marcella Center tried to meet with the nursing home administrator to discuss urgent health and safety issues and other work-related concerns.
These included concerns over lax Covid protocols, short staffing, poor lighting, and icy conditions in the parking lot, lack of hazard pay, and management’s failure to approve employee time-off requests.
The next morning, Rivera received a phone call from the administrator telling him that his services were no longer needed. He had worked at the facility for 22 years and had a crystal-clear employment record.
To resolve the issue, 1199SEIU and Complete Care Management agreed to a final and binding arbitration process. On February 10, the arbitrator determined that Rivera was unjustly terminated and ordered his immediate reinstatement, with full back pay and benefits.
Despite the final and binding nature of the arbitration procedure that both parties had agreed to, Complete Care had refused to abide by the arbitrator’s decision for almost two months. Complete Care Management is a for-profit nursing home chain that became the largest operator of nursing homes in New Jersey after many private-equity backed acquisitions during the pandemic, including Marcella.