Workers vote overwhelmingly to hold a 1-day strike to protest unfair labor practices.
ALLENTOWN, PA – With growing concern over the future of senior care in their communities, and frustration that management refused to release important financial information regarding the home, workers at Phoebe Allentown and Phoebe Berks voted by an overwhelming majority to approve a 1-day unfair labor practices strike.
What: Candle Light Vigil For Quality Care
Who: Phoebe workers, Faith leaders, community supporters
Where: Outside Phoebe Ministries, Allentown: 1925 Turner Ave., Allentown
When: Tuesday, December 22nd 3:30pm
Photo opportunity: Hundreds will hold candles, speak out and share their stories. Prayers from local religious leaders
“No one ever wants to go on strike, but we felt like we had no choice,” said Sandy Fehnel, an LPN who has worked at Phoebe for 27 years. “We have been trying to work with management for months to reach a fair agreement, but their final proposal was a blow to the very foundation of what makes Phoebe home a special place with incredible care.”
Phoebe Ministries has consistently received high ratings for care and was named “One of the Best Places To Work” by the Allentown Morning Call earlier this year. The home has been known for having very high standards in employment, and their family-sustaining wages have allowed workers to spend decades serving residents and building relationships with families.
Now management is asking workers for over $2.7 million in concessions, including:
· Wage cuts of up to $4.14 an hour for 66% of workers.
· A hike in some health insurance co-premiums, making it hard for healthcare workers to afford healthcare for themselves;
· Nearly a half-million dollars in cuts to worker’s 401ks; and· Changes to overtime, short term disability, and holiday pay.
Meanwhile, the top six executives at Phoebe enjoy $2.1 million in total compensation. (see EXTRA!)
“It’s hard to be treated so unfairly,” said Eric Szopacs, a CNA at Phoebe for 12 years. “And it’s frustrating that management has refused to provide us with more financial details or work with us on cost-saving measures we had discussed.”
Workers offered proposals that would have saved Phoebe Ministries $1 million/year, including an alternate health care plan which was more cost effective for everyone. They also offered concessions, including some wage cuts, reducing their annual paid leave by up to 12 days, reducing their holiday pay, and agreeing to pay more for dependent healthcare coverage in an to avoid the deep wage cuts that could jeopardize quality care.
Low wages are linked to a reduction in quality care, because homes are unable to retain a dedicated and skilled workforce, or keep the workers they have. High turnover disrupts continuity of care and can lead to staffing shortages.
“I care for my residents like they’re my own family, and I want the very best for them” said Ann Dee Morris, who has worked at Phoebe for over 30 years. “I work in housekeeping, but if I know one of my residents is at the end of their life, I will sit there and hold their hand just to make sure they’re not alone. They don’t deserve any less than that.”
Workers will be joined by residents’ families and community supporters for a candle light vigil on Tuesday, December 22nd beginning at 3:30pm in front of Phoebe headquarters in Allentown. The one-day strike will be held December 30th at the Allentown and Berks locations – details to come.
“A Community Of Faith, Called By God” . . . at $340/hr
To illustrate management’s proposed $17/hr salary cap for Phoebe employees in perspective, I’m posting the wages, per hour, of Phoebe’s top wage earners as filed with the IRS in 2014:
Scott R. Stevenson CEO $340/hr ($707, 029 annually)
Lisa Fichera COO $173/hr
Sandra Massetti EVP $124/hr
Revena Rossi EVP $103/hr
Cynthia Richart Dir Pharm $92/hr