Labor & Business

Healthcare workers picket for living wages and patient care at Blackstone Valley Community Health Center

Staff at Blackstone Valley Community Health Care (BVCHC) held an informational picket today in Central Falls to demand fair wages, affordable health insurance, and better patient care. “We work hard to provide exceptional care to our patients. But low wages cause workplace frustrations and high turnover, which could mean longer wait times for patients,” said Nissa Slachek, a Registered Nurse.
Photo for Healthcare workers picket for living wages and patient care at Blackstone Valley Community Health Center

Published on January 29, 2019
By Steve Ahlquist

Staff at Blackstone Valley Community Health Care (BVCHC) held an informational picket today in Central Falls to demand fair wages, affordable health insurance, and better patient care.

“We work hard to provide exceptional care to our patients. But low wages cause workplace frustrations and high turnover, which could mean longer wait times for patients,” said Nissa Slachek, a Registered Nurse. “That’s why we’re out here today, to stand up for ourselves and our patients.”

The workers, members of SEIU 1199 New England, have been negotiating for months with BVCHC management, but have yet to reach a deal.

“We work so hard taking care of our patients,” said Anabel Garcia-Campos, an Administrative Medical Assistant. “We know we’re not going to get rich doing this job, but we should be able to pay our rent and still have enough left over to take our kids to the movies or buy them a pair of shoes.”

Given the recent closure of Memorial Hospital, it is critical that the health care jobs that remain in Pawtucket and Central Falls are good paying jobs.

Staff at the Providence Community Health Center earn significantly more than BVCHC staff. For example, Medical Assistants earn 13 percent more at PCHC than BVCHC.

Besides wages and healthcare, the parties are at odds over several other issues. Among them, the company wants the right to mandate certain staff change their schedules to work evenings and weekends with only two weeks’ notice, which could create significant childcare and eldercare concerns.

While management has argued there is not money to provide good raises to everyone, address healthcare costs, or other issues, BVCHC CEO Ray LaVoie received a 30 percent raise in 2016 according to the most recent publicly available filings.


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“When our CEO gets a 30 percent raise while we’re living paycheck to paycheck, something is wrong,” Campos-Garcia said.

The parties are scheduled to bargain again on January 31 to try to resolve the dispute. If not, the workers say, they will be back.

“We all work hard and we all deserve a good raise and affordable healthcare,” said Slachek. “We’re a Union. That means we stick together until all of our staff get the raises they deserve.”


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