NJ caregivers will picket Complete Care nursing home after company fired a union activist & ignored arbitrator’s orderMarch 24, 2022
On Friday at 3PM, nursing home workers, members of 1199SEIU employed at Complete Care at Marcella Center, will hold a picket line in support of their union colleague Damian Rivera, who was fired without just cause by Complete Care at Marcella after engaging in protected concerted activity with his co-workers.
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.
On January 13, Damian and about ten fellow workers at Marcella Center attempted 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 which had caused numerous employee injuries, lack of hazard pay, and management’s failure to approve employee time-off requests.
The nursing home administrator refused to have a meaningful discussion with the workers and disappeared into another room. Despite workers maintaining a respectful and professional demeanor, the police were then called on them. The group of workers peacefully dispersed after the police came and refused to intervene.
The next morning, Damian received a phone call from the administrator telling him that his services were no longer needed. Damian was given no explanation and was hung up on when he attempted to ask questions about what was happening. 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. The arbitration hearing was held on February 3 and the arbitrator made his ruling on February 10, determining that Damian was unjustly and ordering 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 is refusing to abide by the arbitrator’s decision.
Therefore, workers will be picketing outside Marcella Center to demand that Complete Care complies with the arbitrator’s ruling.
The full text of the arbitrator’s ruling can be read at: https://www.1199seiu.org/application/files/5716/4607/9523/Complete_Care_at_Marcella_and_1199SEIU_United_Healthcare_Workers_East_-_Damian_Rivera_-_Termination-_2-10-22.pdf
Friday, March 25, 2022, from 3-4PM
Outdoors by the street at Complete Care at Marcella— 2305 Rancocas Rd, Burlington, NJ 08016
Nursing home workers picketing and chanting outside the nursing home with signs and a bullhorn
Damian Rivera will be joined by his co-workers, members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East who are employed as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), dietary aides, recreation aides, and housekeepers.
Sheron Johnson, an LPN at Marcella, said: “Damian is a leader in our workplace and in our union and is well-regarded by all for the quality of his work and his care for our residents. He truly goes above and beyond to serve our residents and to mentor other workers at Marcella. Losing him would be not only deeply unfair, but would also be an incalculable loss for Marcella as an institution and for all its workers and residents. Complete Care must immediately comply with the arbitrator’s order and reinstate Damian with full back pay and benefits. Anything less is injustice and lawlessness.”
Clauvice St. Hilaire, Vice President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said: “Damian Rivera is a 22-year employee at Complete Care at Marcella Center with an impeccable record, beloved by his co-workers and residents. Complete Care terminated his employment without just cause the day after he and his co-workers attempted to speak directly with management about ongoing health and safety issues at the facility, among other concerns. Complete Care at Marcella Center and 1199SEIU agreed to a final and binding arbitration process to resolve their dispute over Damian’s termination. Despite a complete victory for Damian and the Union, and an order by the Arbitrator requiring Complete Care to immediately return Damian to his job with full back pay, Complete Care has refused to allow him to return to his job. As a result, Damian is facing significant financial hardship. Complete Care’s disingenuous behavior in refusing to abide by a final and binding arbitration process agreed to by both parties is deeply unsettling. We are seeking compliance with the arbitrator’s award and justice for Damian, his co-workers, and the residents of Marcella Center who depend on skilled CNAs like him to provide for their daily care.”
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in New Jersey and nationwide. We represent over 16,000 healthcare families in New Jersey and over 450,000 total members throughout New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, and Washington, D.C. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.