Nursing Home Caregivers Picket in Raritan, Demand Fair Contract

March 6, 2012

The 1199SEIU cargivers of Raritan Health and Extended Care Center gathered in front of their nursing home today to demand a fair contract for workers. Union and community members were taking action to support Raritan caregivers and other nursing home workers who are also in negotiations with their employers across the state.

Nearly 50 Raritan caregivers from three shifts gathered in front of their nursing home today at 2:00pm to join fellow caregivers and community members who support their fight for better wages and affordable healthcare benefits.

The workers are currently in a contract dispute with management who is proposing immediate wage freezes for the next year and reductions to workers’ paid time off. Management is also proposing to reduce starting rates for new workers, and is refusing to increase contributions to the employee health insurance fund needed in order for workers to maintain their existing healthcare benefits.

“My children are currently covered by my insurance. If I lose my insurance, what will happen to them? I don’t want to go on welfare. I’ve been working too hard at Raritan for almost twelve years to do that,” said Mika Beneche, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Raritan. “My co-workers and I deserve better.”

Caregivers at Raritan are part of a coordinated bargaining unit involving fourteen (14) long-term care facilities throughout the state, all of which are currently in a contract dispute. Today’s action was part of a wider campaign that is targeting some of the facilities with informational pickets intended to inform New Jersey residents and public officials about the need to secure decent contracts for workers in order to improve standards and maintain quality residential care in the state’s nursing homes.

“We keep hearing that employers cannot afford to maintain workers’ health benefits or offer caregivers the raises they need to earn a decent living,” said Milly Silva UHWE Executive Vice President in New Jersey. “But many are upgrading their facilities or acquiring new ones. And we’re just asking that management make a similar investment in its workforce, as it is doing in the other aspects of its business.”