By Don McIntosh
After 23 residents died in nine weeks, six from COVID, 85% of workers at the Rawlin memory care nursing home in Springfield, Oregon, signed union cards and went on strike Feb. 16 to demand union recognition.
Though common in the 1930s, so-called “recognition strikes” are rare today. But nursing home workers felt conditions were too unsafe to wait months for a National Labor Relations Board election to prove majority support for joining Service Employees Local 503. Workers said they were motivated to strike in response to understaffing, severe patient neglect, inadequate training, and high employee turnover. Twenty-six of the facility’s 48 workers took part in the strike.
Onelife Investments, owner of the nursing home, hired replacement workers and declined to voluntarily recognize the union. On March 2, workers ended the strike with an unconditional offer to return to work—for those who want to. But the majority of strikers resigned en masse the same day.
Local 503 is helping strikers find work at unionized nursing homes, said union field coordinator Sean Staub.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: For more about the strike, including videos and images, see the Rawlin Workers Union Facebook page.