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1199 SEIU nursing home workers prepare to go on strike at Ascension Living Our Lady of Peace

"If you don't have enough staff in the evening shift people here have to go to bed right after dinner."
Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 06:57:13-05

LEWISTON, N.Y.(WKBW) — Dozens of 1199 SEIU nursing home employees of Ascension Living at Our Lady of Peace gearing up to walk out of their job on Wednesday morning if their competitive wages and better staffing aren't met.

"We're not meeting the need. You're not meeting the expectations. These people's mental health suffers. They are stuck alone. If you don't have enough staff in the evening shift people here have to go to bed right after dinner that's like six o'clock and they have to stay there until the following morning."

Diez tells 7 News reporter Yoselin Person the need for staffing can be dire.

"Us staff members have to absorb two entire other positions, and that's not mentioning if another department is short like the dietary because then also we're waitresses," says Diez.

Diez and her co-workers say they hear no response from their employer.

7 News reached out to the president of the facility. He says this:

"We are disappointed 1199 service employees international union - united healthcare workers east (SEIU) has made the decision to proceed with a strike, especially given the hardship this will present for our associates and their families."

The administrative organizer of 1199 SEIU represents the workers, Hannah Lorenc, says she tells me the union has been at the bargaining table since November worker's contracts expired in December, and so far, no agreement has been reached.

"We've done a number of actions to try to show the employer these workers deserve a fair wage, and unfortunately, none of them have been able to move the employer off on their position, and their position is paying workers lower than the industry standard," says Lorenc.

Lorenc says the facility closed the doors of a few units because of the lack of staff which goes back to Lorenc saying the lack of pay rate causes the shortage of staffers.

"The ascension has closed three units because they can not hire CNA's at the pay rate they're offering."

Workers of Ascension Living at Our Lady of Peace will walk out Wednesday at 7 a.m. in hopes of having their concerns heard.

"We need more staffers in the building and the only way to do that is if we meet competitive wages," says Theresa Tomlin, a certified nurse assistant of Ascension Living at Our Lady of Peace. "No one wants to come to get a little chump change where they can go somewhere else and make a few more dollars like we do back-breaking work. We take care of your loved one."

The 1199 SEIU organizers continue to meet with management in hopes of reaching an agreement.