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News ::
Caregivers rally for better staffing, authorize strike if necessary
16 Aug 2002
Caregivers and other employees of the Northampton Nursing Home held a rally Thursday to build public support for long-overdue improvements in the quality of care for their residents. The workers were joined by many community supporters at the spirited protest.
Northampton, MA About 80 caregivers and other employees of the Northampton Nursing Home held a rally Thursday to build public support for long-overdue improvements in the quality of care for their residents. The workers were joined by many community supporters at the spirited protest.

Union members have been negotiating for months with management seeking to reach an agreement on a new contract that would improve pay and working conditions. Employees contend that significant increases are needed to stabilize employee turnover and reduce the number of expensive outside temporary employees needed to staff the home.

A recent state cost report showed that Northampton spent over a million dollars on temporary services last year.

"We want to improve care for our residents and create the good jobs our community needs," said Paul Lagreze, an occupational therapy assistant who has worked at the Northampton home for five years.

During the rally, union members held a secret ballot vote to decide about using a strike to pressure management for improvements. Workers voted by almost 90 percent to give their negotiating committee the power to authorize a strike if needed. No strike date was set and union leaders pledged to give management plenty of time to safely transfer residents to other nursing home accommodations.

"We're hoping our rally will focus the public's attention on the problems at the Northampton Nursing Home," said Matt Mickiewicz, a maintenance tech. "This sends a signal to management that it's time for immediate improvements in wages and conditions here."

The employees' contract expired May 31, but has been extended until August 30. Northampton nursing home is owned by the Lash family, who live in Fall River.

The union of about 125 employees who are members of SEIU Local 285 includes CNAs, therapists, teachers, housekeeping, laundry, dietary and maintenance personnel.
See also:
www.seiu285.org
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