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Wingate Watch #3
by Rand Wilson
Email: rwilson (nospam) local285.com
Phone: 617 442-4100 ext. 139
Address: 21 Fellows Street, Boston, MA 02119
20 Dec 2001
Keeping an Eye on the Schusters
Issue #3, January 2002
More Democrats Do the Right Thing
SEIU Local 285 and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) reached an eleventh-hour agreement just be-fore union pickets were set to go up at a major DNC fundraiser on November 20. The DNC agreed to convene a meeting with Wingate owner Gerald Schuster and the union to work towards a settlement. The DNC also an-nounced that the fundraiser would proceed without the $25,000 contribution from Elaine and Gerald Schuster or their participation at the event.
The move by the DNC was good news for workers at the Schusters’ Wingate at Wilbraham nursing home, who are struggling for a contract to improve the quality of care and staffing.
The Wingate workers won the right to negotiate with management almost three years ago. Since then, they have met with their elected officials, circulated petitions among state legislators, testified at legislative commit-tees, attended State Democratic Party committee meetings and conventions, and urged their supporters to send thousands of postcards calling on the to the Democratic Party to take a stand against the Schusters’ union bust-ing.
SEIU Asks for Pledge
SEIU Local 285 has called upon all elected officials not to take any contributions from the Schuster family or executives of their company, Continental Wingate. A special pledge form was sent to all members of the Mas-sachusetts Congressional Delegation, Massachusetts Gubernatorial candidates, statewide officers and state leg-islators.
The next issue of Wingate Watch will report on who has signed the pledge.
Our last issue noted that Senator John Kerry took a $1,000 contribution from Elaine Schuster in June. SEIU has requested Kerry to return the money to the Schusters.
In the Boston Globe, Senator Kerry questioned SEIU Local 285’s hardball tactics, especially targeting Gerald Schuster’s wife Elaine for her role in the anti-union campaign at Wingate. But Senator Kerry should have checked the facts. Elaine’s involvement at the nursing home has been extensive and the Wingate businesses actually belonged to Elaine’s father, so her involvement precedes her husband’s.
When will Senator Kerry join the growing number of Democratic Party leaders who are taking a strong stand against the Schusters and return their union busting money?
More Managers, Less Staff? Go Figure.
Wingate at Wilbraham has undergone an enormous management turnover. Since the beginning of 1999, twelve top managers have left the facility. After the nursing home was cited in a Department of Public Health inspec-tion last August, a new management team has been brought in.
Wingate created two new positions. Earle Lerner, of Senior Rehabilitative Services (a company that is owned by Gerald Schuster’s son, Scott) was hired as “Chief Operations Officer” along with Steve Vera as a new “Ex-ecutive Director.” In turn, these bosses now oversee the home’s Administrator, Lin Fong.
The new managers’ first act was to cut the number of staff on each shift. Although residents complain that there are too few staff, the company believes that a top-heavy management will solve the problem and that fewer direct care staff are needed.
Some residents and family members haven’t been too happy about the changes. In a Dec. 12 letter to Steve Vera several family members wrote, “It is time to wake up…Wingate is in the worst situation that it has ever been.”
Wingate Watch is published by SEIU Local 285 to spotlight the activities of Gerald and Elaine Schuster.
If you have information or concerns about the quality of care at Wingate nursing homes or any other news about the Win-gate company, please call the Wingate Hotline at 617-442-4100 ext. 305.