Labor board decision clears the way for unionizing nursing assistants

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Labor board decision clears the way for unionizing nursing assistants
Labor board decision clears the way for unionizing nursing assistants
As officials predicted last week, the National Labor Relations board has issued a union-friendly decision that would make it less complicated for certified nursing assistants to unionize.

The board rolled back a 1991 decision, determining that the United Steelworkers could organize 53 CNAs in a Mobile, AL nursing home as part of a single bargaining unit, and exclude 33 other facility workers such as janitors, cooks and file clerks, The New York Times reported. The decision was 3-1.

Beth Martino, senior director of public affairs for the American Health Care Association, said that while protecting employee rights is essential for assisted living, long-term care and nursing facilities, the NLRB decision was entirely political.

“We remain concerned that this decision may cause division and dissent between different groups of employees, pitting each group against the other, when they may actually have similar interests,” Martino said. “Unfortunately, this could lead to serious disruption of the care of our nation's ever-growing frail and elderly patient population served in nursing and assisted facilities across the country.”

The nursing home decision was announced in conjunction with two other decisions viewed as pro-union. These events come on the heels of other union activities that critics say target long-term care workers.

“When our sector is already doing everything we can to protect our workforce at a time when budgets are being cut, this is an unnecessary burden,” Martino added.