Labor Groups Target Nursing Homes for Unionization

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Martha Glass' mother lies blind and in a fetal position at a nursing home near Birmingham, Ala., unable to tell her daughter what she needs, or how she is treated.

Over the past nine years, she has suffered serious bed sores from not being changed or bathed properly. And Glass believes that's because the home's operator, Beverly Enterprises, doesn't hire enough people.

"They just don't get the quality of care I feel my mother needs," Glass said.

"I still worry when I leave if she's going to get fed, if she's going to get her clothes changed."

It's an issue that some of the country's biggest labor unions are targeting: As they work to rebuild their movement, unions are waging an intense campaign to represent health care workers, especially Beverly's.

Unions have produced reports contending that Beverly, which receives most of its revenue from public sources and has a long list of National Labor Relations Act citations, has mistreated workers and neglected patients.

But Jim Griffith, a senior vice president for the company, rejects the charges as a "13-year corporate campaign against Beverly."

"What they're trying to do in one fell swoop is unionize the nursing home industry," Griffith said. "We have endured a well- orchestrated, well-funded public relations smear campaign."

The number of nursing home workers who are unionized is very low, about 10 percent according to the private Bureau of National Affairs. …