Frontline workers fighting or better working conditions, resident safety
Frontline healthcare workers at Blue Circle Rehab & Nursing, represented by SEIU Healthcare Missouri, are back on the job after a five-day Unfair Labor Practices strike.
The workers, who have been in negotiation with the company for more than a year went on strike Nov. 5 at the nursing home on 2939 Magazine Drive in St. Louis. The union filed Unfair Labor Practices charges against the company about two weeks ago for refusing to bargain in good faith.
SEIU Healthcare and Blue Circle workers held a rally in front of the company’s corporate office at 120 S. Central Ave. in Clayton on Nov. 8. They are fighting for a better Blue Circle for workers and residents of the home.
RULED IN OUR FAVOR
“We just learned that the board has ruled in our favor on the bad bargaining charges,” said Lenny Jones, state director and vice president of the union. “The best choice is for Blue Circle to get back and bargain in good faith. They will face assessments as well for costs incurred by the union because of that bad faith bargaining.”
The union also called on St. Louis city and county to conduct an investigation on Blue Circle and two other nursing homes owned by the same company: Big Bend Woods Healthcare Center in Valley Park and Chestnut Rehab and Nursing in South St. Louis County.
FIGHTING FOR RESIDENTS
Jones said the company acquired Blue Circle in April 2019. According to an Oct. 30, 2020 inspection by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the nursing home was cited for 31 deficiencies – many related to resident dignity and quality of life. Some of the violations included:
- Patients forced to sit in their own waste.
- Residents waiting hours for assistance to get out of bed.
- Failures to prevent and treat pressure ulcers.
SHORT STAFFING TO BLAME
“Short staffing was to blame for the deficiencies,” Jones said. “Workers have been stretched thin. We urge the government to do more to oversee the safety of our nursing homes.”
Also speaking at the rally was SIEU Healthcare’s Lamarr Young, a 20-year employee at Blue Circle who Jones described as an absolute rock holding Blue Circle workers together and leading negotiations for the bargaining team.
“When Blue Circle took over in 2019, they increased the number of residents, but cut staff,” Young said. “We’re fighting for our insurance and better rates of pay, but we’re human, and we care for our residents. We’re struggling to keep up with increased demands.”
On Nov. 9, Worker’s Right Board members from Missouri Jobs with Justices walked the workers back to Blue Circle and negotiations with the company resumed. The strike impacted more than a dozen workers.