Hundreds of Supporters Rally for Unpaid Retirement Home Workers

February 23, 2011, 4:20 PM EST

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Hundreds of CAW members, residents and allies showed up for a February 22 rally outside of LaChaumiere retirement home where workers haven't been paid for nine weeks. Photo by Gord Gray, CAW Local 444

CAW Local 2458 members who work at LaChaumiere Retirement Residence just outside of Windsor have not been paid by their employer, Liberty Assisted Living, for more then nine weeks.  Yet despite this fact, all 38 women, who provide nursing, personal and supportive care, have continued to report for work, refusing to abandon their residents.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza spoke at the rally, demanding that the provincial government step in to ensure these residents are cared for and the workers are paid.  He also stressed the importance of ensuring vulnerable seniors and others who need care are not taken advantage of by for-profit corporations.  "Nursing homes and retirement homes should be government regulated, operated as not-for-profit facilities, ensuring the needs of the seniors are put before the needs of shareholders."

CAW Local 2458 President Bruce Dickie said that the union has done everything within its legal ability to support these workers.  "We have won their arbitration case, and taken this to the courts as the employer refuses to honour that award. We are now in a waiting game, while the Court makes decisions about where the funds seized from the employer will go," said Dickie.  

"Adding insult to injury this employer had taken pension contributions from these workers, but has not made those contributions on their behalf; essentially they are stealing from these women. Company management should be thrown in jail."

The largely unregulated retirement home industry is comprised of mostly by for-profit operators, and there are no limits on what a corporation can charge for 'retirement living,' so the choice of a home is largely related to what individual seniors can afford to pay. 

 "With the shortage of hundreds of nursing home beds, these homes often function as long-term care facilities, providing high levels of nursing and personal care," said CAW Financial Secretary Tullio DiPonti. "This is the only industry in the country where employees would continue to show up for weeks on end without pay; this employer is exploiting these women for their dedication and commitment to the residents they care for."

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