By ONME Newswire
Editor's Note -- Here is the news story update as of 11/22/22: The sides forged a one-year deal, and will resume bargaining in nine months, according to a spokesman for the workers’ union, SEIU 2015.
FRESNO, CA—This month's strike was just one of many: healthcare workers from the Sunnyside Convalescent Hospital (SCH) in Fresno, CA, have been striking since September concerning the medical minimum wage disparities, the wage scale seniority discrepancies and the lack of quality care for the nursing home patients at the facility. In fact, the 99-bed facility stayed open throughout the strike.
ONME News found that some SCH nursing home workers who were paid out from the facility, attempted to pay their bills, only to find out that the checks bounced. SEIU 2015 made several attempts to reach the SCH management to address these concerns; however, management has ignored their requests over the past nine months, according to Maria Xiquin, SEIU 2015’s regional director for the Central Valley and Central Coast.
Sunnyside’s owner, Mario Marasigan has made empty promises to change the conditions of the facility and to pay the workers legal checks, canceling the bargaining agreement meetings or making excuses to cancel. As a result, Sunnyside workers struck Oct. 6, complaining of unsafe working conditions, pay at less than minimum wage and bounced paychecks. SCH employees and SEIU 2015 supporters fasted in protest at Fresno's Courthouse Park on Oct 18. ONME News spoke to some of the SCH employees, and here is a summary of their concerns:
Slyvia Gomez, who is a housekeeper at the facility, said the workload can be overwhelming, being that she is the only housekeeper available for the entire facility--she has also been retaliated against for protesting during the SEIU strikes.
Head cook Abel Cerrillo had been working at the facility for 28 years, working for the same wage $15.00 per hour with no raised. They recently downgraded his title down to a "dietary aid worker" without explanation or forewarning.
Strike participant, Matrese K. Davis, has two children, lives in a family of eight, and has to live with her brother due to the constant bounced checks she receives from SCH employer, Marasigan.
Xiquin said that SEIU 2015 asked the state Department of Health Care Services to audit Sunnyside’s wages. The Bee confirmed the state’s audit found SCH's management was paying employees less than the required 58 cents above the state’s $15 minimum hourly wage for non-medical staff and 78 cents above that for medical staff.
SEIU 2015 represents more than 400,000 long-term care workers in California.