Nursing home workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota at Guardian Angels in Elk River announced today that they have voted to hold a 10-day Unfair Labor Practicss (ULP) strike beginning October 5th.

The group of over 100 workers do housekeeping, laundry, dietary and health unit coordinating, nursing assistance, recreation and maintenance for the elderly at the facility

The union argues that their employer continues to refuse to bargain in good faith. The Union filed the formal 10-day notice of the strike Monday. The union is primarily asking for access to the facility, and for their pay to be commensurate to the quality care they provide residents.

After repeated attempts a Guardian Angels representative could not be reached for comment

Jody Winter, a laundry department worker for over 30 years at Guardian Angels, explained why she is fighting for the new contract and striking.

She explained that turnover is particularly high at the facility. Someone with her longevity is rare. Pay raises are necessary to “retain good staff”, and she further explains that the union wants Guardian Angels to “invest in their employees.”

For Winter, the work matters and she is motivated by residents to fight for a better contract

I love the residents. I worked there for the residents. I don’t work there for managers. I worked there for the residents. They come to our facility in the last year of their life. So we try to make it special, that’s why I’m there. I don’t make tons of money, but they need somebody to do their laundry, somebody to cook their meals, and they deserve that.

Jane Gardner, a nursing assistant and TMA at Guardian Angels for nearly 14 years, shared why the workers again voted to go on a ULP strike: to win what is right if management won’t work to find an agreement. 

“Despite all we have gone through, we remain united in our values and committed to winning what is right for ourselves and our residents. After our two-day strike we thought we would see a breakthrough with management, but things just haven’t changed despite over 20 hours of bargaining. All we are asking is to be respected and valued and to be able to have a voice on the job through our union,” said Gardner. “We care deeply about the lives of our residents and work hard to make Guardian Angels the Five Star facility that it is for our residents. We are just asking for that hard work to be acknowledged and respected. We want to feel heard and we want a fair deal. It has become clear that we needed to authorize another, longer strike to show that we won’t back down in our fight for what is right for workers, residents and the whole Elk River community.”

This same group went out on a two-day strike in June. They continue to push their demands of safe staffing for residents, union access to ensure a voice on the job and pay that helps recruit and retain the best staff for the facility. Despite over 20 hours of bargaining since the two-day strike, management continue to refuse movement on important issues the workers have highlighted. 

After the two day strike things become tense at the facility. Winter stated that “my manager doesn’t speak to me much other than she’ll greet me in the morning and a little bit about anything she needs to be done for work. I’ve worked with her for 30 years and that has never been how our relationship has been.” 

Before the two-day strike the two sides had met for over 10 bargaining sessions, with their employer unwilling to meet the group’s demands. The only bargaining session scheduled between now and October 5th is this Thursday, September 26th.

Prior reporting from Workday noted that Guardian Angels has been a largely successful non-profit enterprise.  According to publicly available 2017 tax documents Guardian Angels made $1,806,640 in profit on $16,543,644 in revenue and $14,737,004 in expenses.  In the same tax year, President and CEO Daniel C. Dixon was paid $226,658. Over the last decade, the non-profit network has consistently made a profit except for the 2013 tax year a loss of $44,057.

This article was amended at 4:10pm to reflect that the strike will be a ULP strike.

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