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September 20, 2013

Orchard Manor employees vote to unionize

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — On Thursday evening the employees at Orchard Manor voted to join CSEA.

Though there is now a process to go through to make their unionization official, the vote was by a “comfortable margin” according to CSEA spokesperson Jill Asencio.

After the vote to unionize was known, a number of employees at Orchard Manor met at Medina Lanes to celebrate.

All of them agreed the decision was necessary to keep patient care at a high level in the home. Now, though, they said the work begins. 

“We’re going to get to work negotiating a contract and we’re going to try to get some people their jobs back,” said Christine Penna, an LPN. Penna, who was suspended a day after the union story broke last week, said the vote showed the “solidarity” among the employees at Orchard Manor.

“This shows how we stood together and that we’re all in this together,” Penna said.

Meghan Carpenter, also a licensed practical nurse at Orchard Manor, had been part of the union organizing committee and was also suspended this month. She said her vote was challenged on Thursday.

“I showed up and they told me my job had been terminated,” Carpenter said. “They hadn’t told me anything and we can’t figure out why.”

Another terminated employee, Sarah Gates, a CNA for almost 14 years at the home, said she learned of her dismissal over the phone. Gates, like Penna and Carpenter, was part of the pro-union group, which include as many as a dozen members. 

Pam Frasier, a CNA, said none of the suspensions or terminations had any merit.

“It’s been horrible to watch the last few weeks,” Frasier said, referring to her colleagues. “I didn’t see any proof or evidence that would have led to a suspension.”

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