Schenectady County

Baptist Health workers vote to unionize in Scotia

Caregivers at Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center voted in favor of joining a union Fri

Caregivers at Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center voted in favor of joining a union Friday, nearly one month after a handful of nursing assistants publicly criticized management over short-staffing at the Scotia facility.

In a secret ballot conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, 97 caregivers voted in favor of joining a union and 35 voted against. Caregivers eligible to vote included certified nursing assistants, restorative aides and housekeeping staff, among others.

The caregivers will be represented by 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which has 11,500 members across the Capital Region and Hudson Valley.

“At the end of the day, everybody who delivers care wants a say in how that care is delivered,” said union organizer Lige English, “so we look forward to working with management to give these front-line caregivers a say in patient care and restoring Baptist Health to one of the best nursing homes in the nation.”

Staff spoke out last month about what they described as untenable staffing levels. They said patient care had begun to suffer in recent years as management cut staff assigned to each floor at the nursing home and rehabilitation facility.

Each floor of about 50 residents used to have five aides in charge of checking on patients and helping them wash, dress and use the toilet, if needed. Aides also ensure residents get to activities or medical appointments on time. In recent years, management cut the number of aides assigned to each floor to three or four, staff said.

“They notice the quality of care is less,” Jaynessa Walker, a CNA at Baptist, told The Gazette last month. “We have less time per resident. We no longer have time to offer a decent ‘Hello, how was your weekend?’ The time to just be human with them is gone. And with less staff, residents are having to wait longer to get care. The family members who come in are noticing, too.”

Baptist officials defended their staffing levels, saying they’ve brought on new employees to help provide proper care and maintain the safety of its residents. But last-minute “call-outs” had become a problem, they said.

The 262-bed nursing home on North Ballston Avenue also includes a rehab center where people can get physical and occupational therapy. It’s run by Baptist Health System, a nonprofit organization that also manages Judson Meadows Assisted Living Community on Swaggertown Road.

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