As NJ Nursing Homes Are Sold, Members Mobilized to Protect Jobs and Benefits

October 29, 2021

1199SEIU members at two New Jersey nursing homes held pickets on July 29 to protest the sale of their facilities and cuts to their health insurance and other benefits. This April, 1199SEIU learned that Atlas Healthcare was planning to assume ownership of Cranford and River’s Edge nursing homes and intended to immediately and dramatically cut back workers’ healthcare and other benefits and refused to commit to retaining all employees.

Workers at both institutions launched into action, demanding that management respect the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which includes successorship language and prohibits the employer from selling or transferring operations, unless the new operator agrees to hire all bargaining unit workers and maintain their terms and conditions of employment. After members brought the issue to arbitration, an award was granted in their favor, blocking any sale or transfer that did not comply with the successorship provision of the CBA.

However, both the seller and Atlas continued their plans to proceed with the transfer—in direct violation of the terms of the CBA and the arbitration award— without guaranteeing jobs or maintaining wages, family health insurance, pensions, and other important benefits for current bargaining unit employees. 1199SEIU immediately filed an action in federal court to require the employer to comply with the arbitration award and the successorship clause of the collective bargaining agreement. At press time, the sale had not gone through, and members are staying vigilant and ready to take action to protect their jobs.

“I love my job and my residents. We sacrificed so much over the past year, and it is really offensive to me that we still have to fight to keep what benefits we have,” said Cristina Martino, who works as a CNA and a housekeeper at Cranford Rehab and Nursing Center, “I also worry about my job— before the Union stopped the sale last spring, I was told not to come into work because I wasn’t going to be rehired for a job I’ve had for 30 years!”

1199 Magazine | September - October 2021