Local 1223-08 Ratifies Contract, Welcomes New Members

Workers at Carriage Inn, a nursing home in Cadiz, Ohio, this week ratified a new contract after a series of extensions of the old contract and months of hard bargaining.

The negotiations also sparked a successful internal organizing campaign, adding some 30 new members and more than tripling membership in the open-shop unit, comprised of laundry, kitchen and maintenance workers, nurses’ aides and other support staff.

A modified Building Power workshop and lots of member-to-member communications were key to both endeavors, said Local 1223 President Greg Burwell.

“From start to finish, the owner didn’t want to recognize our union,” said Burwell. “He’s against seniority, benefits, everything, and he has a hard time even understanding what we stand for.”

There is a lot of turnover at the facility, said Burwell, and the owner makes it as difficult as possible for union members to talk to new hires. He also regularly denied requests for release time so the bargaining committee could participate in negotiations.

But a core group of committed members kept pushing, knowing they could have strength in numbers. They invited the district to do a training session and formed a Communications Action Team so they could better inform their fellow workers of their rights.

In the end, they were able to get a four-year deal that wrested some of the power away from Carriage Inn’s owner, including a flat 3 percent pay raise that moves the unit away from the evaluation-based system the owner previously controlled. It also leaves open the opportunity for a further 2 percent increase based on merit.

Now, it’s a matter of continuing to grow the membership and staying committed to the fight, said Burwell.

“We need more communication, and we need to get more people involved,” he said. “Growing the membership will keep making us stronger.”

“This contract was truly a team effort,” said District 1 Director Dave McCall. “The bargaining committee stayed strong, and the leadership and commitment of John Saunders and the other district staff ensured that we could keep going with negotiations even when management tried to derail

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