St. Louis – Workers at Riverview Care Center, represented by SEIU Healthcare Missouri, are calling out the owner’s decision to close the facility amid negotiations for a first contract, transferring some of the staff to a non-union facility, but notably, not the union organizers.
The Daake family, which owns Riverview, recently announced plans to close the facility at 5500 S. Broadway, claiming they had staffing shortages due to the COVID vaccine mandate and relocated residents and some part-time workers to Dutchtown Care Center.
Employees including union activists were not offered jobs at Dutchtown.
Dutchtown is currently a candidate for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Special Focus Facility list – a list of just under 100 nursing homes in the country with higher than average deficiencies such as not meeting health or safety standards.
Workers at Riverview voted to be represented by SEIU Healthcare Missouri in 2021; however, owners have fired union supporters during the organizing campaign and have been in negotiations for the past year.
SEIU Healthcare Missouri has filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against Riverview Care Center for refusing to bargain over the decision to close and the effects of the closure, as well as transfering work resulting in the termination of workers at the unionized facility.
FIRED FOR SEEKING BETTER WAGES
Yamura Smith, a CMT at Riverview and a member of the union’s bargaining committee said workers have been fighting for better wages and safety standards, and to be treated with dignity and respect.
“The owners and management have dragged their feet every step of the way with this negotiation, and now they’ve found a new way to try and stop our union,” Smith said.
“On Feb. 20, we were informed that Riverview would be closing – claiming they were having trouble fully staffing the facility due to the COVID 19 vaccine mandates. But in a year of contract negotiations, this issue was never brought up,” she said. “Riverview has simply found a loophole to close the facility for their own financial gain while busting our union in the process.”
What’s happening at Riverview is indicative of a trend at other St. Louis nursing homes – out-of-state owners disregarding the welfare of workers, residents, and communities who depend on these facilities in a quest for more profits.
The non-union Dutchtown facility has been a candidate for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Special Focus Facility list for more than seven months due to the conditions there.
CLOSED RATHER THAN BARGAIN
“Rather than bargain with our union, Riverview owners chose to close the facility and disrupt residents’ lives by relocating them to a facility that is objectively worse and needing special attention,” Smith said.
“Workers should not suffer because nursing homeowners want to make more money,” Smith said. “We provide quality care to our residents, and we expect to be treated with dignity and respect in return. Shame on the owners of Riverview Care Center.”