Fight to unionize Beverly
Ruleville, Miss.-Workers at a nursing home in Ruleville owned by Beverly
Enterprises have got themselves together and filed a petition for a union
election. They want to be represented by UFCW Local 1529 There are about 75
workers at the nursing home, and nearly all of them are Black women.
People might be surprised to see what is happening in Ruleville today. The
last time Ruleville was in the headlines, it was when Fannie Lou Hamer led
the voting rights fight here in the 1960s. Today they teach about her in
the Ruleville schools, but a lot of the conditions she fought against are
still oppressing the people in Ruleville
The organizing committee at the nursing home is really strong. It has about
15 people, from all the different departments-CNAs (nurses' aides),
housekeeping, laundry, dietary, and maintenance. I have been going to their
meetings, and they are really enthusiastic. One nurses' aide told how when
she was in high school she went to the civil rights marches with Fannie Lou
Hamer-She said that when she went to work at the nursing home, a group of
workers was talking about the conditions. They tried to get everyone
together to protest to the director, but people were in fear.
This time, she said, we are going to get a union, The campaign started in
April, and people have been signing up ever since. The workers say that
what makes them angriest is the way management talks to them and treats
them. They got accused of not doing their jobs or not taking good care of
the patients. But there are too many patients-for each worker. No one could
do a good job under these conditions.
When you start at Beverly, you start at just over the minimum wage. The
average wage is $6.00 an hour. Even though it is a health care facility,
there are no real medical benefits, And there is no job security.
Management keeps a revolving door going, firing workers all the time for
Beverly Enterprises is not a little company. It is a powerful giant
national chain of about 600 nursing homes and hospitals across the country.
Everyone knows it is a strong anti-union company. Kate Bronfenbrenner of
Cornell University testified to Congress that Beverly was "one of the
nation's most notorious labor law violators." They sued her for saying it,
but they lost.-The NLRB has ordered them to stop threatening pro-union
workers, but they keep right on trying to do it.
We have a couple Beverly facilities unionized in Jackson, after a long
struggle. We won an election at a Beverly home in Memphis, but Beverly tied
it up, challenging it. They fight you all the way, they just do delay after
delay, instead of negotiating a contract.
The workers in Ruleville are prepared for a long fight. If you visit there,
you will find that the struggle Fannie Lou Hamer began, these workers want
- UFCW Local 1629 activist
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