sunrise northeast

Striking Health Care Workers Could Be Replaced

NBC Universal, Inc.

It's been more than a month on the picket line for 150 health workers at Sunrise Northeast. Now the center's attorney says they're hiring permanent replacements - which means those workers could be out of a job soon.

“For them to now threaten to fire us and replace us with people they don’t know, that’s not okay. That’s not morally right,” Carina Moore, one of the workers, said. 

Moore has been on strike for better pay and benefits. She cares for the developmentally disabled in a group home managed by Sunrise Northeast, a Florida-based company.

“I really thought Sunrise would do the right thing and get us back to work with our individuals,” Moore said.

“They threatened to hire permanent replacements for all our positions and that’s just a slap in the face for all the care that we’ve done for anybody,” Kim Adams, another Sunrise worker, said. 

Adams said she has had to look for other work. 

“It means all new people coming and taking care of all of the individuals who live in the house and all of us not having a job to go back to,” Adams said. 

Sunrise Executive Director Dawn Frey did not return calls for comment, but an email obtained by NBC Connecticut from Sunrise's attorneys said they are moving to hire permanent replacements. 

“Sunrise ought to come to the table, ought to come to a reasonable deal not precipitate this crisis and the hardship on these workers by seeking to replace them,” Senate President Martin Looney said. 

Looney said the state provided them with $184 million for raises and benefits for this workforce, but Sunrise still has not agreed to take the state’s money. 

“I think that is outrageous that these workers who take care of frail people are being treated the way that they are,” Looney said. 

Union President Rob Baril said “you’re taking our money, our tax dollars to fund these services and condition of it is that workers will have some basic standards in terms of how they live.”

Baril says the state needs to step in and do something. 

“It’s an act of love to get up and to care for folks who can’t care for themselves,” Baril said. 

He said it’s not the way to treat these workers. 

“My heart is full when I’m taking care of my girls,” Moore said.

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