By Doug Cunningham
Navato Healthcare Center nursing home is under an NLRB order to rehire and pay tens of thousands of dollars in back pay to five workers in California. They were organizing a local of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) when they were fired just two days before an NLRB union representation election. Despite the firings and an intense anti-union campaign the workers at Novato won their election in 2015. But they have yet to win their first collective bargaining contract. Richard Draper is an NUHW organizer.
[Richard Draper]: "These are just very remarkable people who take care of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, are wanting to just be treated with respect. That's why they decided to join our union. They don't make a lot of money. And these folks stay at the facility because they care about these residents.
And for the employer to violate their rights, to treat them how they have is just pretty despicable."
Draper says these workers had to endure an intimidation campaign from Novato management simply to exercise their legal rights to form a union. Workers in America, Draper says, need stronger labor laws protecting the right to organize.
[Richard Draper]: "This facility became a real war zone for almost two months during the organizing campaign. This is another example of where at some point in our country we need to focus on strengthening labor laws, especially the laws that protect workers when they act collectively. 'Cause it's not strong enough. The penalties for employers should be much more severe. Because there's not enough bite to the law, too many employers violate it."
Novato has appealed the NLRB ruling reinstating the fired workers, but Draper says these workers will prevail in asserting their legal rights to organize.