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Workers organize union in face of intense opposition at Minnesota nursing home

By staff |
March 14, 2016
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St. Louis Park, MN - Over 140 workers at Golden Living Center Saint Louis Park Nursing Home voted on March 10, by more than an 80% majority, to join SEIU Healthcare MN. This group of workers faced one of the most intense fights from the boss, starting the moment they filed their cards with more than 2 to 1 support for forming their union.

Upon finding out that workers had decided to form a union, the boss immediately doubled up on managers walking the floors of the nursing home and they flew in ten professional union busters to stand in the halls and intimidate and threaten union supporters. They literally would run up and break up any two workers who started talking to each other anywhere on property. Workers on the ground said it felt like being in a prison, with managers and their hired muscle acting as the prison guards.

These union busters resorted to the lowest tactics in the book to try to stop the workers. One union buster even referred to a group of workers who were immigrants from Africa as “slaves.” They quickly fired one of the main supporters of the union in retaliation for her union support and activity. They then claimed she was not fired, that she was just “indefinitely suspended.” They lied to people about who was or was not eligible to vote in the election in an attempt to suppress votes for the union. They tore up union flyers and threw them at supporters, swore at them and called them all “idiots.” Essentially, they violated every legally protected right that these workers have. In one pathetic attempt to stop the workers, they even mandated people to take off their name tag lanyards that had union logos on them and mandated them to wear ones that said “Vote no.”

Management even committed voter fraud by trying to convince those who were not eligible for the vote to go vote anyway, to try to create confusion around the vote count and get the results thrown out or tied up in court for years to give them time to fire everyone before their union got recognized.

There were many complaints from residents that these hired union busters who management brought in were disrupting their lives and the care they needed. Some of those residents even put on union buttons to show their solidarity with the workers who were under these disgusting and illegal attacks.

In the end, Golden Living made it clear they would stop at nothing to keep these workers from having a voice. The good news is that the power of the workers doesn’t come from laws or from collaboration in a voting process. The power of the workers comes from the fact that they are the people who do the work. They knew this well and because of it they were not afraid. These brave workers stood up to the illegal attacks that they were forced to endure and they voted 88 to 19 to join SEIU Healthcare MN.

Now as they go forward this group is well prepared to stand strong bargaining their first union contract and put the boss in their place just like they did while organizing their union.

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