By Miriam Rosenberg
Debra Wishropp (left), a recreational leader, and another worker try to light their candles as they fight the wind coming off the water. Wishropp said “Our most important thing is health benefits. That’s the number one priority.”
Workers and members of Union 1199 at West Lawrence Care Center on Seagirt Boulevard and 14 Street held a candlelight vigil in the early evening of January 10 to bring attention the fact that several members of the union are having a problem getting a contract from the facility’s owners.
Recreational workers and smoking aides at West Lawrence Care Center voted to join the union and were recognized as members of 1199 by the labor board nearly two years ago.
Workers hold up their candles in foam cups high. Wind from the water prevented most of the candles from lighting, but a co-worker from inside the building provided the cups necessary to shield the candles from the wind.
“We’ve had several negotiating sessions already,” said Debra Wishropp, a recreational leader. “They’re still sticking us in the most important part – health care. They don’t feel that we should get the same health care as the rest of the 1199 workers in the building.”
Wishropp also said that they are being denied a pension.
Anne Powe (right with handbag), a vice president of 1199’s Nursing Division, tells the workers that all union members must work together to support each other.
“We work very hard in here. We want what all the members in this building who are 1199. We’re not asking for nothing more than what they get.”
Anne Powe, a vice president of 1199 in the nursing division, told The Wave “Eleven workers are trying to get a contract. We want them to be incorporated into the contract 1199 workers here have already.
“We got them in over a year ago. They should have been part of the contract by now.”
Members of 1199 gather outside West Lawrence Care Center to bring attention to the recreational and smoking aid workers attempt to secure a contract.
The current contract with workers at West Lawrence and 1199 workers expires on April 30. The goal is to bring the recreational and smoking aids into the contract before that deadline.
Powe told other 1199 members from West Lawrence that joined those fighting for a contract that “Your contract expires April 30, and we don’t want to be down to the wire with contracts, so we have to band together to support each other.”
West Lawrence Care Center’s management had no comment on the matter.