Guest Column St. Louis Post-Dispatch: I’m standing with striking nursing home workers — and you should, too

(We are pleased to post this guest column by State Representative Bruce Franks Jr. in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today, December 13th, 2017 about our workers on strike at Christian Care Nursing Home in Ferguson. Representative Franks lives his values, walks-the-walk, and spoke out on our strike line on Dec. 7th – see video herehonk_for_respect_v1). 

By Bruce Franks Jr.

On Dec. 1, 100 workers at Christian Care Home in Ferguson got tired of asking to be treated decently. They got tired of asking for the nursing home ownership to follow labor law. They got tired of waiting for wages they can actually live on.

So they did what you do when you’ve been asking and asking and asking for something that is your basic God-given right and getting nowhere — they decided to stop asking and start demanding. So they went on strike. An unfair labor practice strike to be precise, because they were sick of having their rights trampled on.

strike_day_8_groupIt’s been over a week now, and they are still on the strike line and still demanding that ownership treat them with respect and dignity. They’re sick of being treated like second-class citizens. Sick of being told their rights, their needs, and their work don’t matter. Of being told that they don’t matter.

You see, these workers know they matter. They know their work matters. It matters a lot. They do the really hard work at Christian Care.

This is a nursing home that takes care of older folks who don’t have a lot of money — and who have worked hard all their lives. And these workers are the ones who feed these residents, who bathe them, who dress them and, yes, who change them. These are the workers who make the meals, clean the floors and do the laundry.

And they do it with patience, and they do it with love. And they do it knowing that all of us are going to need some help like that someday. At least if we live long enough to need it.

They are fighting for basic things that labor law says they should have.

They’re asking that their hours not get cut without advance notice and without the nursing home bargaining with them over it — that’s basic labor law.

They’re asking that they not have their vacations taken away from them. That they not be forced to work overtime — again not without notice and not without bargaining over it. These are the rights that people suffered and died to win.

These are rights that belong to everyone, no matter the color of your skin or whether you’re working in a rich suburb or in Ferguson.strike_day_8

That’s why I joined them on the picket line this week, and why I’ll continue to show up for them when my schedule allows — the way they have shown up for everyone else.

They’ve shown up for the residents who depend on them — some of them have been working there 20, even 30-plus years, and their residents are family for them. They show up for their own families, trying to stretch their poverty-level paychecks to feed and clothe their children.

Now, it’s time we all showed up for them.

Not just for their sake, but for all of our sake — because every time we stand up when one of our brothers or sisters is being treated like a second-class citizen, we are standing up for ourselves as well.

At the end of the day, we need to see how all of our fights are connected, whether we’re fighting against police brutality and for police accountability — or fighting for economic justice in St. Louis politics or for labor rights and decent pay at a nursing home in Ferguson.

The fight of the striking Christian Care workers belongs to all of us.

So I hope to see you soon on the picket line in Ferguson, standing up for on-the-job rights, for respect, for dignity, for fair treatment, for living wages — standing up for the worth of all of our brothers and sisters.


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