Caregivers in Missoula’s only union-shop nursing home are taking time out to try to secure some help for themselves.
Since May 1, when Hillside Health Care Center didn’t follow through with a negotiated raise that was scheduled to take effect, workers have tried unsuccessfully to convince management to keep their word, says Mark Anderlik with Unite Here! Local 427 Union. In response, workers will stage a rally outside the nursing home at 4720 23rd Ave., on Thursday, June 15, at 3 p.m.
Hillside Executive Director Adam Molenda insists in a letter to staff that the nursing home fulfilled its promised raise because a state wage add-on passed by the 2005 Legislature boosted the wages of Hillside’s certified nurse assistants, as well as those working in housekeeping and laundry by about $1 an hour. The letter claims the state-funded increase is allowed to count toward the raise the nursing home had agreed to give in 2006. Molenda did not return the Independent’s calls to elaborate.
But Anderlik says the state’s contribution had nothing to do with the contract that was negotiated between Hillside and its workers in 2004 and which provides for annual raises through 2010.
Montana Sen. Greg Lind, D-Missoula, who cosponsored the wage add-on legislation with Sen. John Cobb, R-Augusta, says the new money was intended as a gift to some of the state’s hardest-working employees—not as a grant to help nursing homes meet their obligations.
“If they get to claim this as their increase, it’s a direct subsidy to the company, and that’s not how it was intended,” says Lind, who met with Hillside two weeks ago to discuss the issue. The union has tried other tactics too, including wearing “Where’s Our Raise?” buttons on the job and having City Council and local clergy members speak to management on their behalf.
“This is something that’s so straightforward—it’s there in black-and-white in the contract,” says Anderlik, adding that he’ll have enlarged images of the contract’s provisions at the rally. “Just in case they had a hard time reading these things, we’re going to make sure there’s no excuse for what they’re doing.”