Unionized workers from Carleton Manor in Woodstock protest in front of Carleton MLA Bill Hogan’s downtown constituency office on June 26. Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Carleton Manor workers in Woodstock delivered a loud and clear message to their MLA Monday afternoon, June 26.  

More than a dozen members of CUPE Local 1587, representing the N.B Council of Nursing Home Union (NBCNHU), marched to Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Bill Hogan’s constituency office to voice their response to the government’s first contract offer. 

“It’s a disgrace,” said Local 1587 president Ronda MacFarlane. 

While they represent staff at Woodstock’s Carleton Manor, she said workers from other provincial nursing homes delivered the same message to government officials in their respective communities. 

Standing in front of Hogan’s office at the busy downtown Woodstock intersection of Main and Connell streets Monday afternoon, MacFarlane called the government’s contract offer an insult to nursing home workers and their families. 

She said government representatives handed the union a contract offer of six per cent over four years, then walked away from the negotiating table. 

Holding up the page showing the details, MacFarlane said it offered a two per cent raise in the first year and one per cent over the next three. 

“That doesn’t even come close to the cost of living,” she said, adding previous contracts already placed hardworking nursing home workers in a deep financial hole. 

“It’s a real slap in the face,” MacFarlane said. 

While Hogan wasn’t in his office to see or hear the protest on Monday, the workers said they would return as often as possible to get his attention. 

“We’re not going away,” MacFarlane said. 

She said the contract offer highlights how little the Higgs government values nursing home workers. She noted the government gave paramedics and prosecutors and judges huge increases. 

“He gave himself 15 per cent, and his government buddies 12 per cent,” she said.

MacFarlane said wages represent only one of the contract’s shortcomings, citing recruitment and retention as an ongoing problem. 

She said fair wages would help efforts to hire and keep staff. 

MacFarlane said the NBCNHU represents maintenance, housekeeping, kitchen and other non-nursing positions at nursing homes. She said they enjoy their jobs and genuinely care for the residents. 

She said the nursing home workers’ current contract expired on Oct. 16, 2022. That’s common, she added, noting the previous contract was two years late. 

As the protesters held signs and shouted in front of Hogan’s constituency office, passing motorists shouted words of encouragement and honked their horns. 

MacFarlane expressed appreciation for the support but said nursing home workers need support and respect from the government. 

She said Monday’s protest is “one of many to come.” 

“Strike is in the air,” she added. 

MacFarlane acknowledged, however, the difficulty for unionized nursing home workers to go on strike. 

She said the government would go to court to stop a strike by labelling them as essential workers. She acknowledged the irony of calling workers “essential” while refusing to pay them fairly.

By Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 26, 2023 at 14:08

This item reprinted with permission from   River Valley Sun   Woodstock, New Brunswick
Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated

Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated