UNITE sticks at nursing home 

Amazing how employees change their ways when their bosses aren’t looking over their shoulders. Potentially intimidating hovering by the management at the Hillside Manor Nursing Home prompted the National Labor Relations Board to overturn a vote to dissolve the union there last June and order a new election. But management couldn’t prevail the second time around, and on Dec. 19 employees voted 27 to 15 to remain members of the UNITE HERE! Local 427.

“[Management’s] union busting attorney was there kind of putting pressure on people, especially newer people, so I’m sure we lost a few votes there,” UNITE HERE! representative Mark Anderlik said.

Regardless, the union won the day, and that has Anderlik pleased.

“This is a huge win over a company that has tried to put a stop unions,” he said.

After the vote, Local 427 president and Hillside employee Kari Hoffman said she’s relieved that months of effort paid off with a win. “I feel [the election] went really well. We ran our campaign with honesty and openness and that’s what people wanted,” she said.

Hillside Manor Executive Director Starla Horwath declined to comment about the union vote.

Labor problems developed at Hillside Manor after the state Legislature approved public funding for nursing homes to give each worker a $1 an hour raise, but Hillside management took advantage of the state’s largesse by reneging on a raise they’d already negotiated with UNITE HERE!. Eventually an arbitrator found in favor of the employees and ordered Hillside to cough up $19,000 in back pay, but the decision came after the tainted June election.

Hoffman says the arbitrator’s ruling that management misled employees and cheated them out of pay helped convince employees to stick by the union.

“[Hillside] will always try some kind of union busting thing…but this election shows that people want us here,” Hoffman said.

The election will keep Hillside’s front line employees under UNITE HERE!’s umbrella through 2010.
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