Workers at Eskaton Village Grass Valley voted “overwhelming” Friday to organize as a union, the first of Eskaton employee groups in the Northern California-based chain of active senior living complexes to make that move.
“This is fantastic,” said Eskaton Grass Valley medical technician Kathy Terra of the 42-16 vote in favor of organizing within the long-term care workers section of the Service Employees International Union. “We look forward to negotiating with management to make this a better place.”
Eskaton’s Chief Operating Officer Betsy Donovan could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Eskaton Village med tech Teri DeMunck said the vote will have implications throughout Nevada County.
“It’s going to change things for assisted living facilities in the county,” DeMunck said. “All assisted living places will become competitive, and the work atmosphere at all facilities should improve.”
She said the vote process was empowering.
“We held strong, and our voices were heard,” said DeMunck. “It was an overwhelming victory; they couldn’t even make a challenge.”
She cautioned that the vote was “only a battle in the war ” because “we still have contract negotiations to go through.”
SEIU long-term care section organizing coordinator Guadalupe Martinez said the union would go into effect after the vote is certified by the National Labor Relations Board, a process that could take about 10 days. She said the vote would have positive effects on the labor climate in Nevada County.
“This is an opportunity for the workers to raise their standard of living,” Martinez said. “By doing that, others will want to raise the standards too.”
Workers began casting their mail ballots on June 3. The deadline to vote was Thursday. Results were announced Friday at the NLRB offices in San Francisco.
Terra, an observer at the vote count, said several Eskaton officials were on hand to observe. They left after the vote, Terra said.
There was no immediate word on the status of a separate union vote on the guard section of SEIU. Eskaton’s campus patrol officers were required to seek membership in the guard section, rather than long-term care.
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