Marking one week since they walked out to protest unfair labor practices at the Cedar Haven Nursing Home in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, striking employees held a rally today to press for improvements so they can better serve their clients.
The message from the licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, laundry and maintenance employees and groundskeepers was simple: “Residents before profits.”
Attempts to work with management to reach a settlement have failed and conditions inside the facility continue to diminish.
Cedar Haven bused in scabs to care for the residents cared for by members of AFSCME Local 2732 (Council 13). According to the Lebanon Daily News, these bused-in workers are failing to provide the high-quality care that residents received from the striking workers. One resident was quoted as saying, “It sucks in there.”
“We want people to know that we love our residents, we are out here fighting for them,” said Penny Kleinfelter, president of Local 2732. “If the owner is willing to walk all over us, imagine what he is willing to do to the residents here. We see it in the papers – conditions are deteriorating. He needs to put residents ahead of profits.”
AFSCME International Sec.-Treas. Elissa McBride joined the rally to express support.
“Cedar Haven is one of the best care facilities in the nation. A five-star rating! And why is that?” she asked the large crowd gathered outside of the facility. “You do. It's your dedication. Your energy. Your skills. Your commitment to the people you care for.”
On October 20, workers were left with no other option but to walk out when their employer, the for-profit Stone Barn Holding Co., imposed aspects of their final offer before workers had an opportunity to vote on it. Stone Barn eliminated all paid holidays, reduced paid leave and combined sick and vacation leave. Additionally, employee health care contributions increased even though the cost of health care did not go up for the employer.
When employees did vote a few days later, they unanimously rejected this package of proposals.
“This is a situation where this employer clearly committed unfair labor practices, violating workers’ basic rights. We won’t stand for that. We will stay here until residents and workers receive the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Steve Mullen, executive director, AFSCME District Council 89.