On Thursday, workers at Rockingham County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center voted by a nearly 2-1 margin (75-42) to organize a union with SEA/SEIU Local 1984. The six-month effort to organize was marked by extraordinary support from presidential campaigns and driven by the passionate leadership of nursing home employees.
“With a national spotlight shining on them, these workers made it clear that their focus was wanting to do the best for their residents,” said SEA President Rich Gulla. “Insufficient staffing has stretched workers thin, leaving them feeling as if they can’t provide the level of care residents deserve. Worse, outsourcing of direct-care positions removes the level of caring that only invested, full-time employees can provide.”
Until now, these workers had no ability to advocate for the kinds of changes that could alleviate these problems. Now, as union members, they have a seat at the table, and can push to improve conditions for residents and staff alike. After this lengthy organizing process, workers will now move to the bargaining process knowing the SEA is fully behind them.
“My co-workers and I have spoken out because we care so much about the work that we do,” said Diane Sampson, a medication nursing assistant at the facility. “There are plenty of jobs we could get for better wages and benefits – we’re here because we’re dedicated to the care of our residents. We’re not just speaking out for ourselves, we’re speaking out for them. The support we’ve seen leading up the vote helped keep us moving – going forward, it’s good to know so many people have got our back.”
As public sector employees, the bargaining process for these nursing home workers is spelled out in RSA 273-A, the same law that applies to state and municipal employees.
Published Oct. 9, 2019