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Caregivers Hold Unfair Labor Practice Strike to Improve Quality of Resident Care at Statewide Nursing Home Chain
Date:9/24/2008

Nursing Home Workers Struggle to Improve Care for the Sick & Elderly at

Facilities Owned By Windsor Healthcare

FREMONT, Calif., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 700 healthcare workers began a two-day unfair labor practice strike Wednesday morning to protest Windsor Healthcare Management's refusal to negotiate issues affecting the delivery of patient care to hundreds of sick and elderly in Bay Area nursing homes. Windsor has responded by informing workers that they will lock them out from returning to work.

Caregivers are trying to negotiate improvements in the quality of care for residents and Windsor refuses to discuss them despite its poor track record of care. In addition, nursing home workers are seeking to gain affordable health insurance, job security and wages that allow caregivers to live in the community they work in. Windsor has refused to negotiate over these issues and on wages has made proposals that do not keep up with the high cost of living.

The unfair labor strike is being held simultaneously at 8 nursing homes located in Concord, Fremont, Hayward, Monterey, and Salinas. All of the facilities are owned and operated by Windsor Healthcare, a statewide, multi-million dollar nursing home chain.

"We gave Windsor every opportunity to avoid a strike, but management refuses to discuss serious issues affecting the care and treatment of our residents," said Eleanor Smithey, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Windsor Ridge Care & Rehabilitation Center in Salinas. "As caregivers, we want an official voice in the delivery of patient care; so that we can act as workplace advocates and help ensure the best possible care for the most vulnerable members of our community. Unfortunately, Windsor isn't listening to our concerns."

Windsor has rejected frontline caregivers' proposals to help ensure quality patient care, refused to bargain in good faith, and continued to commit unfair labor practices. This forced the nursing home workers to call for the two-day strike in order to protect their residents.

Despite the workers dedication and best efforts, management has not agreed to adopt reasonable caregiver standards in place at other nursing home companies in the Bay Area. Workers believe by adopting these proven standards, Windsor could help reverse their poor patient care track record.

Since March 2007, more than 500 violations of health and safety regulations were documented at Windsor facilities during regular federal surveys; spread across Windsor's 28 nursing homes, this is almost twice the national average. In addition, last year, 58 patient complaints against Windsor were verified by the State Department of Health on issues ranging from short-staffing to fire hazards.

"Windsor has a moral obligation to provide the best possible treatment to the sick and elderly," said Rabbi Jane Litman, co-chair of the East Bay Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and rabbi at Congregation Kolot Mayim. "Religious and community leaders throughout California stand with Windsor caregivers in their effort to improve patient care and reduce heavy workloads. Windsor should prioritize resident care above their profit margins."

To address these conditions, more than 700 nursing home workers -- represented by SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West -- have been in contract negotiations with Windsor for more than a year in four facilities and several months at four others. Workers have made proposals to help improve resident care by raising staffing levels and increasing Windsor's ability to recruit and retain the most qualified caregivers. However, Windsor refuses to adopt the caregivers' common sense solutions.

The negotiations are part of UHW's historic 2008 campaign, in which more than 100,000 healthcare workers throughout California will negotiate new contracts. Healthcare workers at more than 100 nursing homes and over 50 hospitals are seeking new agreements in what may be the largest-ever coordinated bargaining effort in the healthcare industry.

With more than 150,000 members, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the fastest-growing healthcare union in the United States. We represent healthcare workers in all job classifications and all healthcare settings, including hospitals, homecare, nursing homes and clinics. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

CONTACT: Blinker Wood

CELL: (323) 434-5733

EMAIL: bwood@seiu-uhw.org


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SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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