Nursing home votes for union

By M. Robert Berg

The DeKalb County Nursing Home voted for unionization yesterday, making it one of the biggest union organizations in the county.

With a vote of 93 to 26, the nursing home employees voted to have the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) represent them in negotiations with the management. Eighty percent of the 150 people eligible to vote voted.

With the vote for a union, employees will be more involved in management decisions. “In terms of decisions that affect employees, management will have to bring decisions to employees,” Sheryl Plotkin, AFSCME organizer said. “Management can’t make decisions unilaterally. They have to have the input of employees.”

Management and employees will have to come to an agreement about what wages, benefits and work rules are fair, Plotkin said. “The employees will elect representatives and receive help from the AFSCME staff,” she said.

AFSCME is the largest public employee union in the country, Plotkin said. “We represent 72,000 public employees in Illinois,” she said. “We also represent employees in the area, including DeKalb County, the city and the university (NIU).”

This unionization is part of a statewide effort on the part of AFSCME to unionize nursing homes in Illinois, said John Ross, administrator of the DeKalb County nursing home. “They want to get nonunion facilities under contract,” he said.

The nursing home has about 200 full and part-time employees, and 194 residents. It is the only publicly run nursing home in DeKalb County.