Belknap County Delegation Won’t Fund Deal

Workers, County Residents Were Able to Sway at Least One Member

The Belknap County Delegation continued its power struggle with the County Commissioners on Monday night, refusing to appropriate money for a new contract for County Nursing Home Workers.

The contract would have provided a modest 1.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment — their first in two years — for nursing home workers, and would have increased rates for health insurance unless the workers took part in several health management programs. The commissioners, who negotiated the agreement with SEA members, recommended the special appropriation.

Numerous SEA members spoke at the hearing, both from the nursing home and from other chapters. One of those who spoke was an admittedly nervous Tanya Phillips, an LNA at the nursing home who served on the bargaining team.

“I stood up and told them that I have a disabled husband and children, and I need to be able to provide for myself and my family,” she said. “To be able to take care of the residents, I need to be able to take care of myself first.”

Her testimony, and the testimony of others in attendance, had an impact on at least one delegation member, Laconia Rep. Bob Luther.

“I was happy that we were able to turn a member of the delegation towards support,” she said.

Interactions between the majority members of the delegation and the county commissioners have been extremely tense for more than a year. Workers have long been caught in the middle — and that was no exception Monday.

After the vote, SEA member Theresa Tardy said she was disappointed in the delegation, and that the decision would continue to force more workers out.

“The delegation’s comments were so outrageous,” she said. “I know this is going to cause nursing home workers to find new jobs. People will be leaving and they won’t be able to have as qualified, committed workforce caring for the residents, and the residents will be the ones who suffer because of this.”

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