Despite months of union-busting, workers emerge victorious with 25-21 vote
With union voice, workers gain pathway towards safe staffing, fair pay, resources to ensure quality care for patients
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – Workers at SKLD nursing home in Bloomfield Hills, including certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and support staff, voted to join together in a union Thursday, winning a voice on the job to negotiate safer staffing and greater resources to ensure quality care for every resident.
The workers’ victory comes despite consistent interference from SKLD management, including an aggressive campaign to spread misinformation, cut workers’ hours in response to their organizing efforts and holding illegal mandatory anti-union meetings. Workers faced months of union-busting tactics by their employer, including legal maneuvers during the ballot count, that ultimately had no power to change the outcome, in order to delay final certification of the union. Nonetheless, the workers voted 25-21 in favor of joining together in a union.
“With this victory, we showed what is possible when workers take action together to demand better in our workplaces and in our lives,” said Aulana Harper, certified nursing assistant at SKLD in Bloomfield Hills. “Despite SKLD’s shameful, illegal tactics to interfere with our organizing and silence our voices, we stayed united and won our union! Now, we will stick together and keep building our power to secure a strong first contract that ensures all of us can care for our patients in a safe and healthy workplace. We encourage nursing home workers at other SKLD facilities to join us in this fight to win the changes our residents and our families need.”
In July, workers at SKLD nursing home in Bloomfield Hills went on strike to demand safer staffing, a voice on the job and greater resources to ensure quality care for every resident and an end to retaliation and intimidation. Just days later, they filed for union recognition. After their successful union election, the workers will become members of SEIU Healthcare Michigan.
“SEIU Healthcare Michigan is thrilled to welcome the courageous CNAs, LPNs, dietary, activities aides and other support staff at SKLD Bloomfield Hills into our union. We look forward to supporting them in their fight to improve pay and workplace conditions to ensure quality care for their patients,” said Dian Palmer, SEIU Healthcare Michigan Trustee. “In the face of intense pressure and intimidation from SKLD management, these workers persevered. Even when their victory was all but certain, their employer refused to acknowledge the vote instead choosing to delay the results. SLKD’s behavior mimicked election officials in our state who tried unsuccessfully to overturn the 2020 election. We are so proud because our workers have shown others across the industry, the state, and the country that nothing is more powerful than a united voice. We are optimistic that their organizing efforts will inspire other SKLD workers to join us in the fight for a better, brighter future for all.”
Workers Win Union Amid Michigan’s Long-Term Care Crisis
Michigan is the nation’s fastest-aging state, according to AARP. By 2025, there will be more Michiganders over 65 than under 18. Michigan will need to fill 178,000 direct care jobs by 2028 to meet the growing demand for care. Across the United States, ten thousand people turn 65 daily and demand for care is skyrocketing.
This industry has long been dismissed and devalued due to racism and sexism, leading to low pay and underinvestment in workers. Eight in ten nursing home workers in Michigan state are women and the majority of all nursing home workers come from Black, brown and otherwise marginalized communities. What’s more, nursing homes where residents are majority people of color have experienced devastating, outsized loss of life from Covid-19 as well as chronically poor standards of care.
“All across the country, workers are rising up to demand the opportunity to join together in unions to bargain for better jobs,” said Kasandra Kemp, certified nursing assistant at SKLD. ”Here at SKLD Bloomfield Hills, we faced retaliation at every turn. But we refused to be turned around, because we knew we’re fighting for what’s right: better staffing and conditions and the resources we need to give our patients the best care. This fight is about finally respecting and valuing the work primarily done by Black and brown women, which has long been devalued and dismissed due to racism and sexism. Because we stuck together, we’ve made it over the first hurdle to win a better future for ourselves, our families and our patients.”
A recent Health Affairs study shows that nursing homes with union workers have lower COVID-19 resident mortality rates when compared to non-union facilities. According to the study, nursing homes with unions are far safer places for workers, with worker infection rates 6.8% lower than in nursing homes without unions. Importantly, these union benefits spread to nursing home residents, who are 10.8% less likely to die of Covid-19 in nursing homes with unions.
A recent Gallup survey found 71% of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest level of support since 1965. Nurses organizing a union at SKLD Bloomfield Hills join fast-food workers, airport workers, other nursing home workers, tech and Starbucks workers demanding fair pay, safe and healthy workplaces and a voice on the job from coast to coast.