June 3, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Union City, NJ–About 120 1199SEIU workers protested outside the Alaris Health facility here on Monday because they say that management is dragging their feet to reach a new labor contract. They also say that while they have job-provided health benefits for themselves, their families do not get healthcare coverage from Alaris.
Devika Smith works as a certified nurse assistant at the Union City facility. She said if it wan't for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, her four children wouldn't have health coverage.
"My children have coverage through [NJ] Family Care, which is extremely critical for my family," said Smith. NJ Family Care is a federally and state funded health insurance program that provides qualified New Jersey residents of any age with affordable health insurance.
This was the second protest in two weeks at one of Alaris Health centers; last week 1199SEIU nurses protested outside the Alaris Health facility in Guttenberg, NJ because the owner of that facility reportedly wants to demolish the building and rebuild the site with luxury housing which would displace about 80 1199SEIU caregivers and over 100 elderly patients.
According to the union, the Union City facility earned over $14 million in profit from 2010 through 2012, which they say should enable Alaris Health provide healthcare coverage for members' families.
When asked what she would say to Alaris Health management if she had the opportunity, she'd asked for more health coverage.
"We need health insurance. How can we be sick and take care of the sick," Smith said.
The union is leading additional protests at other Alaris Health facilities this week. The next one in Hudson County will be on Friday in Jersey City.
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