September 18, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Union City, NJ—After six months of negotiations with Alaris Health and informational pickets, 1199SEIU certified nursing assistants went out on strike at four facilities in New Jersey on Monday. On Wednesday they held a major rally where they were joined by leading New Jersey pols.
Outside the facility on 23rd Street in Union City, Ella Moton, a CNA at Alaris for 14 years, said it was very unfortunate that she and her co-workers had to strike.
“Yes it is. We went out on strike too about five years ago with the same employer. He needs to pay us. We work hard everyday, all day,” said Moton.
During the rally where the mayors of Union City and Jersey City spoke, several speakers said that Alaris is a very profitable healthcare company, making over $40 million in 2013. We asked Steve Fulop, the mayor of Jersey City, whether the company was in a strong position to settle a new contract with the CNAs.
“I don’t think the [CNAs] are fighting for anything other than basic dignity and the opportunity to live a life and provide for their families, and nothing that they have said seems out of bounds,” said Fulop. "If Alaris is profiting the way they look like they are profiting, they need to recognize the fact that these people here allowed them to be successful in the way that they are.”
Devika Smith noted that the owner of Alaris Health, Avery Eisenreich, is earning a lot of money and therefore should bargain fairly with the CNAs.
“He’s earning millions. They make the profit, we do the work. He never said he couldn’t afford to pay us,” Smith said.
The strike is affecting three facilities in Hudson County and one in Bergen County. According to the union, the company bussed in replacement workers from as far away as Pennsylvania to staff the four facilities.