“When we first learned our nursing home was being sold, the county assured us that both job and resident-care standards would not change,” said Alicia Laube, a certified nursing assistant at the center. “But just this week, we learned Premier is looking to slash our wages by $3 an hour and make our healthcare coverage so expensive we can’t afford to even use it. How can we hope to care for Washington County seniors when we will not be able to care for ourselves?”
Premier revealed their proposed changes to job conditions a week prior including wage cuts as much as $3 an hour for various departments and increases to healthcare costs of more than 10 times their original cost, making coverage virtually out of reach for employees.
Premier also confirmed plans to outsource management of dietary, laundry, and housekeeping to an outside company, HSG. HSG has asked all existing workers to re-apply for their jobs and refusing to offer details on potential changes to wages, benefits, or job conditions.
“The new owners have kept us completely in the dark about possible changes to our jobs,” said Mary Glendenning who works in the dietary department and offered testimony at today’s hearing. “They seem unconcerned by the overwhelming anxiety they are causing the workers. We need answers – our jobs and our futures hang in the balance.”
The final sale date was originally slated for October 5 but has since been pushed back to October 20. With the extended deadline, workers are hoping county commissioners will intervene and help workers push back against the most extreme proposals.
“We need our county commissioners to demand Premier and HSG honor their commitment to the workers who have dedicated their lives to Washington County and its residents,” said Zelda Pirt, who also works in the dietary department and offered testimony at today’s meeting. “We need our commissioners to hold the new owners accountable to maintaining good jobs and the type of resident care and services our seniors have come to expect.”
Despite the unreasonable changes proposed by Premier and HSG, union leaders and management are in the process of bargaining a new union contract for the 250 workers at Washington County Health Center.