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May 11, 2001 (Miramichi) The New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions (NBCNHU) held a media conference today to announce plans for information pickets to be held outside nursing homes and the offices of MLAs across the province.

Our members are frustrated and fed up, said Michel Boudreau, President of the NBCNHU. We seem to be the only ones who are taking our contract negotiations seriously. Were certainly more concerned than our employers about the quality of care that our residents receive.

Information pickets will be held outside nursing homes across the province from May 28 to 31, to coincide with negotiation dates. Nursing home workers will distribute information describing the work they do and outlining their concerns to residents, their families, the public and the media. At the end of June the picket line will go up again, this time outside the offices of MLAs.

It is the responsibility of the provincial government to make sure there is enough funding to ensure high quality care for our residents. We encourage all MLAs, regardless of the political party to which they belong, to come out and join us on the picket lines in May. We ask each of our MLAs to state their public support for nursing home workers, continued Boudreau. We are also putting each MLA on notice. If you dont want to come to our rallies, our rallies will come to you.

Nursing home workers say that due to a lack of commitment to fairness on the part of employers and the province, negotiations are going nowhere fast. Conciliation dates have been set for May and June. Outstanding issues are primarily related to workload and its effect on the quality of care, and include staffing standards (short-staffing has become the norm, rather than the exception), sick days, pensions and wages.

Nursing home workers are overloaded, overworked and overwhelmed. We simply cannot continue to work longer and longer hours with too few staff. This is unsafe, unhealthy and unfair to the residents in our care, concluded Boudreau. We represent 35 CUPE Locals across New Brunswick. These rallies are intended to put pressure on our employers and the province to take our demands seriously. If this doesnt work, we are prepared to turn the heat up even more. We certainly dont want to go on strike, but we will if we have to.

The announcement came at the end of the annual convention of the NBCNHU, held May 9 to 11 in Miramichi.

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For more information:
Michel Boudreau, President, NB Council of Nursing Home Unions,
(506) 773-3111
Gordon Black, CUPE Nursing Homes Coordinator,
(506) 773-3111

(Please note that the above numbers are valid only until May 11.)

Laurie Kingston, CUPE Communications, (613) 266-1415 (cell)