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Win Union, Cupcakes, Too!
Nursing Home Employees
Seek UE Aid; Vote 78-44


Grafton County nursing home workers celebrate their resounding victory.
Grafton County nursing home workers celebrate their resounding victory.

Grafton County nursing home workers got to have their union, and eat their cupcakes, too.

Determined to stem the erosion of their benefits, the 150 nursing home employees voted overwhelmingly to join UE on Nov. 29, 1999. Previous organizing efforts with other unions had failed.

A crummy act of bureaucratic pettiness encouraged the rise of union sentiment during the final week.

Grafton County corrections department personnel had voted overwhelmingly for UE representation in September. Two correctional officers visited the nursing home to encourage a big vote for UE, bringing with them two large trays of cupcakes and a letter of support signed by county corrections dept. employees. Each cupcake was festooned with toothpick "Welcome to UE" flags.

Outraged by this union invasion, the assistant administrator ordered the corrections officers to leave — and to take back their baked goods. All of them. Following orders, the nursing home workers reluctantly relinquished the little cakes, frosting, flags and all.

Correctional officers who visited the second and third shifts bearing gifts of cupcakes and union solidarity were more successful. But all shifts became united behind the slogan "Cupcakes, cupcakes, we all love cupcakes!"


Over the years, Grafton County officials have been chipping away county employees’ benefit package. In May, the County took away a holiday, increased prescription mail-in co-payments from $1 to $10, $20 or even $30, depending on the type of drug.

Management required employees to starting paying $2 for their lunches in the County Complex cafeteria. And the County announced that for the third consecutive year workers would not receive a cost-of-living increase.

Nursing home workers are proud to work at the County Home, and proud of their commitment to quality care. But they complain of being stretched to the limit and worry about the care received by home residents, as well as their job and benefit security. They became convinced, like the correctional officers who voted for UE on Sept. 30, that with the union behind them they could end the erosion of their benefits.

The correctional officers actively encouraged their fellow county workers to organize in a variety of ways, in addition to the cupcakes. The officers did "speak-outs" for newsletters, wrote letters in support of the UE organizing drive and spent lunch times talking to nursing home workers.

The two bargaining units will be united in new amalgamated UE Local 278. The correctional officers have begun negotiations. The nursing home employees are setting up their structure and electing stewards and negotiating committee members, and look forward to sitting across the table from management.

Grafton County, located in the Granite State’s northwest, encompasses an area that includes a portion of the White Mountains region and the Connecticut River Valley.

The nursing home employees’ 78-44 victory came with the assistance of Field Organizers Rachel Clough, Rachel Wells, Andrew Tripp, Heather Riemer and Mark Meinster and Intl. Rep. Kimberly Lawson.

UE News - 12/99

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