Some 270 nursing home caregivers, members of 1199SEIU, who work as certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, dietary aides, housekeepers, and activity aides are going on a 24-hour strike at 5 a.m., this Friday, June 23. because of the infamous Michael Konig.
Nursing home operator Konig, once dubbed “landlord from hell” by the New York Daily News and with a decades-long legal history—including payouts to resolve allegations of resident neglect and failure to abide by wage and hour laws—is now under fire for poor working conditions and unfair labor practices at three NJ facilities.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has issued the following statement on the upcoming strike: “Nursing facilities which receive significant funding from public tax dollars have an obligation to use those resources with the utmost responsibility. The women and men who do back-breaking work caring for our elderly loved ones deserve fair treatment and respect. Michael Konig must bargain in good faith with his employees and reach a settlement that values these caregivers for their essential work.”
Nursing home workers who are members of 1199SEIU have announced a 24-hour strike at three facilities operated by Michael Konig, owner of Broadway Healthcare Management, to protest unfair labor practices and demand that their employer invest in better jobs and staffing levels for caregivers.
Each of the three nursing homes—Amboy Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Perth Amboy, ManhattanView Nursing Home in Union City, and Teaneck Nursing Center in Teaneck—has staffing levels for certified nursing assistants (CNA) that fall below state averages on a majority of shifts, according to data from the NJ Department of Health. CNAs are responsible for providing direct care at the bedside, including feeding, dressing, and bathing residents. The overnight shifts are especially understaffed, with levels within the bottom fifth of all nursing homes in the state. Caregivers say lack of sufficient staff makes it difficult to provide the type of quality, one-on-one care that residents need.
“Residents want to get up at a certain time of day, but sometimes they’re stuck in bed because we’re so short-staffed and there’s no one available to assist them,” said Cerese Abraham, a certified nursing assistant at Teaneck. “Short staffing is becoming the norm. A lot of us have high blood pressure from all the stress that brings—one CNA even passed out during a recent heat wave because she was so overworked.”
Earlier this year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued complaints against all three facilities for failing to bargain in good faith with the workers’ union, 1199SEIU. After a thorough investigation, the NLRB also charged the nursing homes with failing to make the required contributions into the employees’ education fund. And at Amboy Nursing and Rehab, the NLRB has issued a complaint for the company’s failure to make the necessary contributions into the employees’ health benefit fund, which resulted in some workers being left without health insurance. A similar investigation regarding employee health benefits is currently underway at ManhattanView. All of the charges are being consolidated into a single case by the NLRB, for a trial slated to take place later this summer.
“For months, nursing homes operated by Michael Konig have engaged in a pattern of unethical and illegal behavior that violates employees’ rights and jeopardizes their ability to deliver quality care to their patients,” said Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU. “It is incredibly irresponsible for Mr. Konig to force caregivers into a position where striking is the last option they have. We do not want to strike, but we cannot allow this employer to undermine job standards in nursing homes.”
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in New Jersey and nationwide. We represent over 16,000 healthcare families in New Jersey and over 400,000 total members throughout New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, and Washington, D.C. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.