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Following A Successful Campaign By The UFCW To Organize The First Brookdale Senior Living Facility In The Nation Right Here In Western New York, 23 Brookdale Employees In Tonawanda Receive $28,000 In NLRB-Ordered Back Pay

Published Wednesday, December 14, 2016

(TONAWANDA, NEW YORK) – Following a successful campaign by United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local One to organize the first Brookdale Senior Living Facility in the United States right here in Western New York, 23 Brookdale-Niagara Employees in Tonawanda received $28,000 in National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)-ordered back pay this week, UFCW Local One Western Area Director Mark Manna told WNYLaborToday.com today (Wednesday, December 14th).

“We reached a settlement (with the company) in August after the NLRB’s issued a (10-J Charge) against Brookdale-Niagara.  On Tuesday (December 13th), the NLRB’s Buffalo Office handed out the board-ordered back pay checks to the Workers as a result of the company’s ‘unfair treatment’ of their Employees during contract negotiations.  In fact, one Worker received ($6,000),” Manna (pictured below with one of the Workers, making a check presentation) told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper (Photos Below Courtesy of UFCW Local One and Western Area Director Mark Manna).

The payments were made to the Workers after the UFCW Local One Western Area Office in Buffalo negotiated the Brookdale-Niagara Employees’ first Union Contract, a three-year deal that now provides them with “the largest one-year wage increase they’ve ever received (4%), a contract that protects seniority, ​the establishment of a grievance and arbitration procedure, and the creation of a safety and health committee to protect Workers from on-the-job injuries that are ‘common’ in the health care industry,” Manna said. 

The contract was ratified in April of this year

Brentwood, Tennessee-headquartered Brookdale Senior Living is said to be the largest owner and operator of senior living communities across the U.S., operating more than 1,100 senior living communities and retirement communities throughout the country and employing 80,000 Staff Members that serve 100,000 residents. 

The company’s Brookfield-Niagara Facility in the Erie County City of Tonawanda provides what is described on the company’s web site as “enhanced assisted living services for seniors.”

The UFCW’s effort to organize the Brookdale-owned facility took a period of two years, Manna told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper, a drive that he said was met with strong resistance from the company after the UFCW was approached by the Workers – including two that previously worked in UFCW-represented jobs at another employer.

“They approached us and we told them we would ‘fight for every one of them’ and ‘that we would always tell them the truth,’” Manna said.  “But it ‘wasn’t easy’ - the employer told their Workers that the UFCW ‘wasn’t telling them the truth,’ but the Workers ‘found out that we were indeed telling them the truth.’”

In the end, the effort turned out to be “significant,” Manna said, because it marked the first time that a Brookdale Facility anywhere in the United States had been Unionized.

Based on the success it had organizing the Brookdale-Niagara Facility, the UFCW is looking into additional efforts to Unionize Brookdale Workers in the company’s other facilities located across Western New York and in nearby Rochester. 

Manna told WNYLaborToday.com Brookdale has about a dozen facilities throughout the region that combine to represent about 300 Workers.

“This (Unionization Campaign) was ‘very significant,’” Manna said.  “The Workers said the company was ‘ignoring’ work rules and they ‘wanted a voice for themselves and for those seniors’ who live at Brookdale-Niagara.  Those Workers now have a ‘strong’ Union Contract.  And this contract proves - ‘again’ - that UFCW Local One is the ‘Union of choice’ for Health Care Workers.

UFCW Local One represents 20,000 Members, including 13,000 Workers employed by Tops Supermarkets in Upstate New York - including across Western New York and Northern Pennsylvania.  Manna said the UFCW has a division within the Union that represents its Members who are employed in the health care industry.

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