Frontline healthcare workers strike Blue Circle Rehab and Nursing over unfair labor practices

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Joined by St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, SEIU Healthcare says Blue Circle has refused to bargain in good faith

By TIM ROWDEN
Managing Editor

ST. LOUIS MAYOR TISHAURA JONES joined Blue Circle Rehab and Nursing workers on the picket line last week, calling on Blue Circle owners to bargain a contract in good faith with workers. – SEIU Healthcare screencap

After months of negotiating a new contract, frontline healthcare workers from Blue Circle Rehab and Nursing, represented by SEIU Healthcare Missouri, held a one-day Unfair Labor Practice Strike Sept. 2, calling out the nursing home’s owners for refusing to bargain in good faith.

In spite of the workers’ continued efforts to secure a fair contract, owners of Blue Circle have refused to bargain in good faith, and have failed to provide information requested at the bargaining table –– leaving workers no choice but to walk out in protest and demand the respect, protection, and pay they deserve.

During an early morning press conference, Blue Circle workers were joined on the picket line by Mayor Tishaura Jones, 5th Ward Alderman James Page, Reverend Darryl Gray and activists with Fight for $15 and Missouri Jobs with Justice – all echoing the workers’ calls for respect, protection, and higher pay as they serve nursing home residents during the deadliest public health crisis in more than a century, and all of whom vowed to continue to stand with the workers until a fair agreement is reached.

Mayor Jones lost her uncle to COVID-19 while he was living in a nursing home in the early days of the pandemic.

“Over the past 18 months, our country has asked essential workers to keep our economy running,” Jones said. “While millions worked safer from home, essential workers headed in and day after day they put their health on the line to care for others.

“I understand how important these jobs are,” she said. “For months, nursing home workers have been on the frontlines taking care of our loved ones. It’s time to make sure they are protected, respected and paid what they are worth.”

BETTER WAGES, HEALTH PROTECTIONS
Workers are calling on Blue Circle owners to bargain in good faith and return to the bargaining table to negotiate a contract that includes:

  • An increase in wages.
  • Affordable healthcare options.
  • A safety committee to include workers in the decision-making process regarding workplace safety, proper PPE, safe staffing and other safety protocols to protect workers from COVID-19 and other deadly diseases.
SEIU HEALTHCARE members staged a one-day Unfair Labor Practices strike at Blue Circle Rehab and Nursing in St. Louis last week, joined by St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, 5th Ward Alderman James Page, Reverend Darryl Gray and local worker rights advocates, calling out the home’s owners for refusing to bargain in good faith. – SEIU Healthcare photo

“We have given the owners of Blue Circle every opportunity to bargain in good faith, and they simply refuse,” said Lenny Jones, State Director and Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Missouri. “We will continue to fight for a fair contract for these workers, as well as other nursing home, hospital, and home care workers putting their lives on the line all across our state until everyone has the respect, protections, and pay they deserve.”

‘NO ONE WANTS TO GO ON STRIKE’
Renee Martin has worked as a certified nurse assistant since 2004 and makes $13.50 an hour at Blue Circle Rehab. The home is always short-staffed, she said, and many employees have quit because of the low pay.

“The residents come first, no matter what,”  she said. “I love my residents. I take good care of all my residents. I clean, change, feed. I do everything I’m supposed to do.”

Martin said if Blue Circle appreciated her work and that of other employees at the nursing home, they would pay more.

“No one wants to go on strike – even for a day – and lose hours and wages,” said Lamarr Young, a floor tech who has worked at Blue Circle for 20 years. “But there comes a point when workers, including myself, have been treated so poorly, manipulated and taken advantage of, that we have to use all the tools available to us – and this includes the right to withhold our labor and go on strike.”


 


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