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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Ferguson nursing home tells striking workers they'll be replaced

Gerrie Gibson, left, has worked for Christian Care Home for 19 years.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.
Gerrie Gibson, left, has worked for Christian Care Home for 19 years.

Workers for a Ferguson nursing home are three weeks into a strike over claims of unfair labor practices. Now, they’re receiving letters from the administrator of the Christian Care Home, telling them they’re being replaced.

In a Dec. 19 letter, administrator Donna Cooper told workers they would have preferential hiring status when there are vacancies if they choose to return. That shocked union nurse Ruby  Crymes, who sits on the bargaining committee. 

“We feel like they’re playing games with our lives,” Crymes said. “We even offered to go back with no raise now, with something on the back end six months later and they didn’t even accept that.”

Representatives of the Christian Care Home in Ferguson declined to comment.

Crymes said the union has met with management three times this month but have been unable to reach a contract.

The strike began Dec. 4. Nurses said they were overwhelmed by demands made by the facility's new administration, including mandated overtime and short staffing. Most nurses, maintenance workers and housekeeping staff are represented by SEIU Healthcare Missouri and Kansas.

The union has filed a federal complaint with its claims. 

Gerrie Gibson, a 19-year veteran of the staff, said he hasn't had a wage raise above 10 cents an hour for at least eight years. Participating in the strike and picket line has required long hours outside in the cold, and three weeks without wages.

The loss of income that makes her worry that she won't be able to give her two grandchildren the Christmas she had hoped for. 

"I miss my patients... it's been very difficult," Gibson said. "But I would like for [management] to respect my 19 years of service." 

Follow Durrie on Twitter: @durrieB.

Copyright 2017 St. Louis Public Radio

Durrie Bouscaren was a general assignment reporter with Iowa Public Radio from March 2013 through July 2014.
Durrie Bouscaren
Durrie Bouscaren covers healthcare and medical research throughout the St. Louis metro area. She comes most recently from Iowa Public Radio’s newsroom in Des Moines, where she reported on floods, a propane shortage, and small-town defense contractors. Since catching the radio bug in college, Bouscaren has freelanced and interned at NPR member stations WRVO, WAER and KQED. Her work has aired on All Things Considered, KQED’s The California Report, and Harvest Public Media, a regional reporting collaborative.