Nursing home workers are striking in Windsor Friday morning after failing to reach an agreement with their employer following six months of negotiations.
The workers at Windsor Health & Rehab Center said they are frustrated over working conditions and current wages and feel overworked and underpaid.
The union said certified nursing assistants make about $15 an hour; dietary, housekeeping and laundry staff are starting at around $14 an hour, and they have no access to affordable health insurance.
“What I get paid at Windsor, I can’t even buy food to put on my table, I can barely pay my mortgage and what I see happening to Black and Brown families that’s working in these fields, the pay that we get, they're forcing us to live in rundown communities, drug-infested areas. It’s so sad," said Yvonne Foster, a single mother of three who has worked at Windsor Health and Rehabilitation for more than 20 years.
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Foster is one of about 15 employees who started striking Friday morning.
“Nobody knows these patients like us. It pains me to be out here now, not knowing what’s going on in there with them. If I didn’t love my job I would not be there for 21 years. I have patients in there who won’t get out of bed if I’m not there,” Foster said.
Workers are calling for more pay and better benefits, something they said that’s only offered to full-time employees right now.
“I know other facilities, with the experience and years I have, they’re working over $20 an hour. We’re nowhere near there. My rate is a little over $17 an hour. I just had to find another job the other day to get medical insurance because I couldn’t afford the medical insurance that’s in my building,” Foster said.
The union was planning to strike at five nursing homes today but said they had reached agreements with all except Windsor Rehab.
Temporary workers will be taking care of patients on Friday.
The union said it also filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming new hires who are unlicensed CNAs have been required to work for free in exchange for supposed educational benefits.
“We’ve been painted as not paying people that are working for us. There has been absolutely no person on our payroll that has not been paid and we are willing to defend that,” Lara Alatise, the owner of the facility, said.
The owner of the facility also said they are offering workers up to a 13% increase in wages, but they want it based on the years of experience they have.
The union wants to raise everyone’s base salary.
Employees said they are prepared to strike for as long as it takes, but both parties said they are hoping to reach an agreement soon.
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