West Lawrence Care Workers Picket For Contract
By Miriam Rosenberg
As passing cars honked horns in support, workers at the West Lawrence Care Center in Far Rockaway took to the streets last Thursday afternoon in an informational picket for a new contract. The members of Union 1199 at the facility –LPNs, housekeeping, dietary workers and receptionists- have been working without a contract since April 30.
Anne Powe, a union representative, said the main issues are pension and health benefits. West Lawrence wants the workers to accept a contract similar to that of the Greater New York Nursing Homes, which Powe explained is inferior to what they currently have.
The Wave tried to get the reaction of West Lawrence’s administrator, Jody Bonura, to the informational picket.
“I was told I cannot comment on that,” Bonura told the newspaper.
The union also wants West Lawrence to include the recreational workers and smoking aides in the new contract. Recreational workers and smoking aides were recognized as members of 1199 by the labor board in February 2003.
As the Wave reported earlier this year, these workers were joined by some of their fellow union members at West Lawrence at a candlelight vigil on January 10 to bring attention to the refusal of the care center to incorporate these them into the contract that was then in effect.
The union and West Lawrence are now in mediation after four nonproductive negotiating sessions.
“It wasn’t going the way we felt it should,” said Powe, who explained there has already been one session with the mediator and others should follow.