Union members protest at Cedarwood Plaza nursing home

SEIU workers protest in front of Cedarwood Plaza nursing home. Workers say Cedarwod wants to reduce pay and sick days for employees. Photo by Kaitlin Bushinski.
Union protesters lined the sidewalk outside of Cedarwood Plaza nursing home on Cedar Road Monday, Aug. 3 for a one-day strike.

Picketers from Service Employees International Union, District 1199 were 30 to 40 strong outside the home that morning, waving as drivers honked in support and calling “Scabs!”  at the vans bringing non-union workers to facilities. SEIU represents 60 workers at Cedarwood.

According to Union Representative Danie Tarrow, SEIU members protested what they viewed as unfair terms Cedarwood’s management has offered during contract negotiations that started in April.

Cedarwood Plaza officials and Eliav Sharvit, general counsel of Legacy Heath Services, the parent company of Cedarwood Plaza, declined to comment for this article because of the ongoing contract negotiations.

According to union workers, Cedar Plaza officials wish to reduce pay rates from $8.50 to $8 per hour, reduce sick days, and shorten the eight-hour work day to seven and a half hours while expecting employees to finish their duties while clocked out.

Protesters said the potential pay cuts would deeply affect their families.

“We are barely getting by as it is,” said MaryAnn Matongwe, 29, a state tested nursing assistant and four-year employee at Cedarwood Plaza. “I work here because the residents love me and I love my co-workers,” she said, adding that if she felt management were making the cuts to provide better services to residents, she wouldn’t mind accepting their terms, but she believed that wasn’t the case.

Matongwe said that Cedarwood Plaza was “getting a bad reputation” because of poor facilities. “Some of the beds are older than me,” she said.

Tarrow said that providing decent wages and “respect in the workplace” was essential to providing quality care to residents. “It’s ultimately about raising the standard of care,” she said.

Kaitlin Bushinski is a recent graduate of Oberlin College and a summer intern at The Heights Observer.

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Volume 2, Issue 8, Posted 3:22 PM, 08.04.2009