Jersey City NJ (Aug. 8) — The families of New Jersey nursing home residents have been on the picket line supporting the health caregivers. They are marching side-by-side with more than 375 nursing home workers on the second day of their 3-day strike. The strike began at 6AM Friday, August 7th and will continue through Saturday, August 8th and Sunday, August 9th. The nursing homes are part of the Omni Corporation, owned and operated by Avery Eisenreich, and include Castle Hill, Harbor View, Palisade and Bristol Manor.
Olga Salvera, whose mother-in-law has been a resident at Palisade for eight years, said, “These workers are amazing. They do everything for my mother-in-law. They feed her, bathe her, dress her and give her love and patience—and all this for $7.90 per hour. That’s not enough money to survive on. They do the work of saints. They deserve fair wages and they should be treated with dignity and respect. The owner needs to share money with the workers.”
After months of urging Eisenreich to bargain fairly, he continues to refuse to help improve resident care and working conditions for caregivers. Eisenreich and his management have intimidated and harassed many caregivers—creating a difficult environment for both workers and residents. He even tried to get an injunction to close down one of the 4 picket lines, but the judge ruled against him and in the workers’ favor.
A major concern for the families of the residents is that Omni’s low wages and bad working conditions have led to high turnover rates, which interrupt continuity of care for residents.
Max Predestin, a certified nursing assistant (C.N.A) at Bristol Manor said, “It is not an easy decision to strike. We take this very seriously. We’re going to stick together and fight for a better life for ourselves and our residents. We want a fair contract now!”
Romeo Rodriguez, Dietary Aide at Harbor View said, “The owner has been unwilling to negotiate with us for two years. We need fair wages to support our families and to care for our residents.”
Many Omni workers are paid as little as $7.37 per hour, significantly below the standard wages paid at other New Jersey nursing homes. They provide direct care, nourishment and support services to the frail and elderly. However, with such low wages, many of them have trouble making ends meet at home. Some have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table. Many have two jobs, or must leave Omni altogether for a decent paying job.
Representing more than 340,000 members in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts, 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East is the largest union of healthcare workers on the east coast. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all.