Chanting, "If we don't get it, shut it down!" in unison Wednesday, several health care workers in the Mohawk Valley rallied outside the Masonic Care Community for better pay.
The picketers say a recent contract proposal for the nursing home facility calls for salary and pension cuts. Masonic and the workers' union have been in contract negotiations since May, but haven't reached a deal.
Nurses Spectrum News 1 spoke with say they're already short-staffed, and they deserve to be compensated fairly. A few Utica Common Councilors were also there to support them.
"They need to treat their workers better. The work that is done here is the most important work that anybody can do. It's the work of taking care of us when we're old, taking care of us when we're sick, taking care of us when we're afraid, taking care of us when we're vulnerable," said Utica Common Councilor Celeste Friend.
"We've been working all day long through the pandemic. They said that we were heroes, but we don't feel like heroes, we're not being treated like heroes," said Certified Nursing Assistant Rochelle Nichols. "We're not asking for much."
Masonic Care Community released a statement in response, saying they've proposed pay increases ranging for seven to 18%. As for pension, they say they've raised the amount contributed per employee over the years.
"Employees would benefit by having their own individual retirement accounts they can personally oversee and manage, including their own investment options," said Masonic Care Community in a statement. "We have been negotiating in good faith with the union to provide our employees with a safer retirement plan."