sam-keep_fa.jpgHealthcare workers in Watertown have chosen to assert their collective strength by organizing and voting to become members of 1199SEIU. Watertown is a small city in Northern New York, just southeast of the Canadian border. Last week, CNAs and resident care assistants at Samaritan Summit Village voted to join 1199SEIU. Less than a week after their victory, the momentum continued and CNAs at Samaritan Keep Home voted two to one to join the union.

The actions by caregivers at these upstate New York long-term care facilities come at time when extremist politicians and their wealthy supporters are funding attacks on working people. They are proposing and passing legislation in Congress and state capitals, and filing court cases at every level that are meant to divide communities, and stifle the voices of working people.

Lisa Lowes, a CNA at Summit Village voted with the majority in favor of a union. She said, “We needed to have a voice and having a union gives us that voice. Morale among CNAs has already changed, we are thrilled to be united and to have a say on the issues that matter to us, our residents, and all of our families.”

Now that they are union members, the Watertown nursing home workers can begin the collective bargaining process where they will negotiate their first contracts and address pressing issues like frequent staff turnover, stagnant wages and a fair workplace, all issues that have an impact on the delivery of quality care to their residents.

Marco Schmidt, a CNA at Samaritan Keep Home (SKH) said, “We are beyond ecstatic to stand up together with other 1199 members for the highest quality of care our residents.”

Maura Lowe, also from SKH said, “I want better working conditions to build a happy workplace which in return makes a better home for our residents.”