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Strike Begins At The Rawlin Facility

Brian Bull

A worker’s strike at a Springfield memory care facility launched today.  Employees are demanding increased staffing, training, and wages.

[CHANTS, BULLHORN: “We’re fired up…(won’t take it no more)…we’re fired up…(won’t take it no more..)”

Dozens of workers at The Rawlin of Riverbend circled the walk outside the facility. Summer Trosko is a leading med tech who’s with SEIU 503.  She told KLCC this strike is for the workers, and the residents they care for.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Striking worker Summer Trosko outside The Rawlin memory care facility where she's employed as a leading medical technician.

“You’ve got care partners in tears, trying to take care of them and they can’t keep up," said Trosko.  "They can’t give them all the care they need, it’s not physically possible. So we’re losing people and we’re watching people get sick who don’t need to get sick, because we don’t have the staffing to care for them.”

Meanwhile, a OneLife administrator disputed the worker’s claims, stating that their wages, training, and staffing are sufficient. Zack Falk, OneLife CEO, adds that the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged everyone in the health care field, and he defends the management and operations at The Rawlin.

Falk told KLCC that wages are competitive and staffing is in line with the healthcare industry.  As to whether or not OneLife would formally recognize the union, Falk replied:

“We respect our employee’s rights to organize for the purposes of collective bargaining.  The decision to join or not join a union is a significant and consequential one and we just don’t feel it’s our place to make that decision on behalf of the employees.  We think it’s best that they do that by participating in a federally-supervised, secret ballot election.” 

Falk also says disputes can be worked out between OneLife and employees, without a union serving as “middle man.”

As to the deaths at The Rawlin, Falk contests worker’s claims that it’s due to operational issues.  He says residents are admitted with the expectation that they’ll remain in the facility until they pass away.

Update: At 5pm, Falk said as of 5:00 today: "Thanks to our dedicated team, The Rawlin at Riverbend was fully staffed and operational today and our residents received the same high-quality care to which they are accustomed."

Through social media, members of the SEIU 503 are calling on people to tell Rawling management to recognize the workers union and hear their demands.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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