Vote to unionize at Samaritan nursing home result of understaffing, employee says



WATERTOWN — Staffing concerns are the biggest reason certified nursing assistants and resident care assistants at Samaritan’s Summit Village voted to unionize in a secret ballot Wednesday, an employee said Friday.

Lisa Lowes is a CNA at Summit Village who voted with the majority in favor of a union. She has been working as a CNA for nearly six years, previously at the old Mercy Hospital.

“We decided we needed to have a voice,” she said.

According to Ms. Lowes, the biggest motivation to hold a union vote has been issues with staffing.

“Just being short-staffed all the time is hard on (the CNAs and RCAs,)” Ms. Lowes said. “It’s hard not being able to do a lot of quality individual care when short-staffed.”

She also reported that, following the vote, morale among CNA’s changed radically.

“A lot of CNAs are thrilled, the morale is ecstatic,” Ms. Lowes said.

Ms. Lowes felt having a union at Mercy Hospital made it a better place to work.

“There were fewer (people calling off work,) people enjoyed working and wanted to work there,” she said.

Since the vote, Ms. Lowes hasn’t had much interaction with management and hospital administration, in part because she works nights. However, she said she wasn’t surprised by the hospital’s negative response.

Samaritan Spokeswoman Krista A. Kittle told The Times in an email Thursday, “We are disappointed with the election outcome. Samaritan has built a tradition of providing excellent care to our patients and residents and working collaboratively with our employees to ensure an optimum environment of care ... that collaboration will now include a third party with limited knowledge of our resident care standards and our caregivers.”

“I don’t know why they would be disappointed,” Ms. Lowes said. “I think having a union will improve quality of care and morale at Summit Village ... I hope that in the long run everyone can come to term and do what we need to do to best take care of our patients.”

Jen JacksonComment