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Nursing home workers are strong when we are united

Toyai Anderson, CENA at Hartford Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

As nursing home workers during the pandemic, we’ve experienced some of the hardest times of our lives. Chronic short-staffing, low wages, and meager benefits have driven workers out of the industry, making our jobs even more difficult. We have seen most of our coworkers and residents get sick, and some have even passed away. We are burnt out and traumatized from what we’ve experienced. For those of us who continue the work, we do it because we love caring for our residents.

I’ve been a nursing home worker for over 20 years and I’m a veteran of several SEIU contract campaigns. I was a strike captain at Hartford in 2020, and I know what it takes to stand up to employers and demand the changes we need to succeed in our industry. When Ciena refused to listen to us during the pandemic, we rose up and walked off the job to demand a better contract. A few months later with the support of Governor Whitmer, we were able to secure a contract that respects the work that we do.

Now we are at a similar crossroads in our recent campaign. Every one of us, regardless of where we live or what we look like, needs wages we can live on, affordable healthcare, and paid family leave. We all want our families to be whole and our communities to be vibrant. But instead of giving us what we need to succeed, Ciena has refused to agree to give workers what they deserve at the bargaining table, offering us another weak contract with low wages. This is unacceptable.

We must take action by using our voices and exercisng our power. Ciena needs to understand that we are willing to do everything in our power to win a contract, including a strike if necessary. We have come too far to give up all we have gained. I refuse to settle for a contract that doesn’t give us the support we need to take care of our residents.

Join me by telling your organizer you are ready to take action and demand a strong contract from Ciena!