Morningside House workers protest unfair treatment

Photo courtesy of Councilwoman Annabel Palma

Workers at a Pelham Parkway nursing home are demanding management “be fair to those who care.”

United Healthcare Workers East, an affiliate of 1199 Service Employees International Union (1199 SEIU), organized a rally for caregivers of Morningside House Nursing home on Thursday, June 19.

Staff at the nursing home at 1000 Pelham Parkway south, owned by not-for-profit Aging in America, said they were protesting unfair treatment by management.

Employees claim that rather than negotiate new policies like most other nursing homes, management “has implemented policies that take away their contractual rights and benefits.”

Vice president of 1199 SEIU Julio Vives said the nursing home is in the process of a management change.

“The home is being sold from a not-for-profit to a for-profit organization, and in the interim time the management has decided to take away the workers bank of sick and holiday time,” Vives said.

“Also, they have unjustly started giving tests to some of the licensed practical nurses (LPNs) here, and if the LPNs do not receive a score of 100, they are subject to being fired. They have already fired four LPNs because they missed one question on the five-question test. It’s like they decided they’re going to make their own rules and policies and not follow our contracts.”

Robinson Management, the company planned to take over management at Morningside, is in the process of getting approval from the New York State Department of Health.

Marie Staime, an LPN at Morningside Houses who was recently let go said “I’ve been working here since 1977. “I was hired to work in the dietary department, worked my way to nursing assistant and now I am a LPN. They gave us a computer test on data entry into the computer system they use, which I got one question wrong on, and I failed. I’ve been out of work for three months now. It’s very unfair.”

But Barbara Hoey, partner and chair of The Labor Employment Group at Kelly, Dry and Warren, an outside counsel to Morningside, disputed Staime’s claim.

Like many other health care providers, Morningside is in the process of switching over to electronic medical records, she said.

“These LPNs, along with all of the nursing staff, went through extensive training, and then everyone had to be tested to see if they knew how to use the electronic system,” Hoey said. “Five LPNS failed the test, not once, but multiple times. They were given multiple chances.”

Hoey also said banked vacation time is not being eliminated.

“Going back to 2009, Morningside has been encouraging employees to use bank vacation time because having this banked time on the books is problematic when the individual decides to leave,” she said. “Ultimately, there is a deadline, employees have to use up the time by the deadline or they lose it. Some people just refuse to take it.”

“The hard-working caregivers at Morningside Nursing Home deserve a fair work environment,” said Councilwoman Annabel Palma, who attended the rally to show support. “As a former 1199 organizer, I led picket lines and walkouts to protest unfair working conditions. Management should negotiate a fair contract so these men and women can get back to doing what they do best—providing quality 24/7 care to Morningside Nursing Home residents, but with the security of knowing that they will able to take care of their own families.”

Reporter Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3394

Photo by Kirsten Sanchez

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