Tennessee Nurses Celebrate Hard-Earned IAM Contract

Left to right: Linda Carringer, CNA, District Lodge 711 Business Representative Mike Lee and Susan Denning, CNA, with the new IAM contract for nurses at the Golden Living Center in Springfield, TN.

Solidarity has paid off for about 50 Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) at the Golden Living Center in Springfield, TN who have secured an IAM contract.

“It started in September 2011, when the IAM met with five workers at the local Shoney’s in Springfield about forming a union,” said District Lodge 711 Business Representative Mike Lee. “The workers overwhelmingly ratified the new contract on August 7.”

Organizing at the assisted living center was an uphill battle. The first vote, in November 2011, ended in a tie, and the National Labor Relations Board authorized a new election, which the IAM won in September 2012.

“It was about respect and rights on the job,” said Lee. “Making sure there is adequate staffing for good patient care was an issue, and the union contract means that there is a voice on the job without fear of retribution. That’s important, because LPNs and CNAs care deeply about having the ability to deliver the best patient care possible.”

The new two-year agreement included two-percent across-the-board raises each year, and a $725 lump-sum bonus.

“One of the important things we were able to do is get so many company policies in a legally-enforceable contract,” said Lee. “Many things were in the employee handbook, but it was subject to change at a moment’s notice, and the whims of the managers whether you could take things like bereavement leave. Now it’s black and white, and everyone’s treated the same. We also negotiated a strong grievance and arbitration procedure to protect the workers.”

Lee credited the contract to the hard work of the two members of the Negotiating Committee and District 711 Directing Business Representative Rickey Wallace, whose “experience and support was invaluable,” said Lee.

“Health care workers across the South need a strong union contract,” said Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin. “These are professionals that need to be treated and respected as the caring front-line defense for their patients. I believe that organizing health care workers in the south would be good for both the nurses and the patients. Congratulations to BR Lee and to the LPNs and CNAs at the Golden Living Center.”