Dozens Turned Out to Ask Belknap County Delegation to Fund Contract
While members of the Belknap County Delegation continue to practice the politics of division, SEA members and community supporters showed what it looks like to come together on Monday night.
Before the delegation’s vote on a contract for the Belknap County Nursing Home on Monday evening, workers were joined at a rally by their SEA brothers and sisters from various chapters, community members, and legislators. Ultimately, the rally failed to sway the delegation, but it showed that the hard-working nursing home employees have strong support in their community. Those workers say they maintain a high quality of care, despite cutbacks and poor treatment from the delegation.
“I’ve been a nurse here for 13 years — we have a very high standard of care here,” said SEA member Linda McKenzie. “That’s why we have a waiting list. We take great pride in the care we provide. Regardless of a raise, we still do our job well and are positive with the residents. Mrs. Worsman has made some very cruel remarks about us. She has said we are not worthy of a raise – that we’re greedy. That is not true.”
Member Theresa Tardy said staff at the nursing home is stretched thin.
“They think we have a walk in the park,” Tardy said. “We’re running around all day long. We’re lucky if we get any break at all during our shifts because of the cutbacks. Each of us does the work of two people.”
Traci Weeks Hoyt, also a member at the nursing home, said cutbacks have affected every department, including things like resident activities.
“This impacts all workers,” she said. “We can’t go on like this, particularly without some acknowledgement that we work hard. We have received overwhelming support from the families of residents. In fact, they wanted to be able to come – some wanted to hold signs with us. It’s been two years without any more money and we continue to go to work and do a good job. We get great job reviews, but it’s ‘sorry, we can’t give you a raise.’”
Sen. Andrew Hosmer joined the rally in support of the nursing home workers.
“These folks have bargained in good faith,” Hosmer said. “This is a bipartisan solution to a challenge that is presented to the county right now. These are the people who take care of some of the most vulnerable in our community, our senior citizens. Anyone who has had to put someone in a nursing home, you know it is a great deal of trust to put in the hands of the care providers. These are our care providers that we need to trust, make sure morale is high, and that they are fairly compensated for the difficult work that they do.”
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 workers unless they took part in several health management programs.