Workers at The Meadows in Centre County hoping to unionize

Workers on the largest psychiatric hospital in Centre County rallied for a union Wednesday, a part of an effort that two lead organizers described as a last-ditch try to deal with long-standing points.

Former registered nurse supervisors Tami Kraynak and Dawn Taylor are spearheading the hassle to band collectively greater than 120 staff at The Meadows Psychiatric Center. Despite being fired in March, the pair intentionally used “We” as an alternative of choosing every other pronoun.

“Until you’ve worked in an environment like that, we really do experience the same traumas day in and day out. It’s such a high-stress environment that we become really bonded, really quickly,” Kraynak stated in March. “I’ve never seen anything like it until I worked there. You do almost become super protective of each other and supportive. It’s neat. We love our jobs. We just want it to be organized and safe.”

The two had been employed some 4 years aside — Kraynak in 2013, Taylor in 2017 — however stated they had been fired the identical day, partially, due to their efforts to unionize.

Leading unionization efforts was in “direct conflict with the conduct expected from employees who are supervisors and are in a leadership position,” The Meadows wrote in Kraynak’s termination letter. She stated her work was not administrative.

More than 4 dozen folks joined the pair Wednesday for a rally on the facility. The group included staff, state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, and Centre County Controller Jason Moser.

“I’m not walking away from this. I could get another nursing job tomorrow,” Taylor stated in March. “It’s for my coworkers, for my patients and for the community. Our community are our patients and they have to come in there and see the conditions; it’s just deplorable.”

Nia Rodriguez speaks concerning the points at The Meadows Psychiatric Center as staff and former staff rally to unionize on Wednesday. Abby Drey

The group and the personal 119-bed facility had been separated solely by state Route 45. Signs that learn “Heroes wanted. Join our team” served as bookends to the doorway. Another learn “Tell the union to buzz off.”

The firm, which is without doubt one of the bigger employers in Centre County, pledged to cut price in good religion if nearly all of staff correctly vote in favor of unionization, CEO Robin Weagley wrote in an electronic mail Wednesday.

“We are currently union free, and we value our ability to work directly with our employees on an individual basis to provide the best possible care to our patients without the insertion of an outside third party with interests that can often differ from those of our employees,” Weagley wrote. “… We also recognize our responsibility to provide employees with the facts surrounding unionization, so that employees can make an informed choice regarding this important issue.”

Some of the problems on the firm — hiring and retaining staff, help from the enterprise’ executives and administration, security and coaching — have lengthy existed and solely worsened because the the onset of the pandemic, Kraynak and Taylor stated.

Stephen Catanese, president of the Service Employees International Union native 688, speaks Wednesday throughout a rally in help of unionization efforts at The Meadows Psychiatric Center. Abby Drey

Some staff have even bought clothes or hygiene merchandise for sufferers. “Enough is enough,” Taylor stated.

“I hear the complaints and the issues and I’ve seen so many really good employees leave because of the different issues that we have as far as people getting hurt at work or safety issues,” Kraynak stated in March. “… It’s like, at this point, what can we do to be heard? That’s when I talked to Dawn and I said, ‘You know what, this might be our best option if we band together. Maybe they’ll have to hear our voice.’ “

There’s been no shortage of social services workers who have asked about unionizing in the past two years, Local 668 of the Service Employees International Union President Stephen Catanese said.

More and more was asked of those workers without care for their well-being, he said.

“Especially at a place like The Meadows, where profit comes in front of patients, the message that we’ve really gotten from all these workers in various roles at The Meadows is not just, ‘We want respected and protected on the job, but we also want to make sure that our employer actually cares about the mission and people we’re serving,’ ” Catanese stated Tuesday. “… They’re hiring nurses everywhere across the commonwealth right now. They could go find another job, but right now what’s more important to them is seeing this through because the lives that they touched and the lives that they cared for deserve better.”

College Township Council member Paul Takac, a candidate for the 82nd House District, speaks Wednesday through the rally for staff of The Meadows Psychiatric Center to unionize. Abby Drey

Workers from The Meadows Psychiatric Center rally to unionize on Wednesday. Abby Drey

Workers from The Meadows Psychiatric Center rally to unionize on Wednesday. Abby Drey

Workers from The Meadows Psychiatric Center held a rally to unionize on Wednesday. The middle presently has indicators that they’re hiring heroes, however staff say they aren’t handled like heroes. Abby Drey

This story was initially revealed April 6, 2022 5:12 PM.

Bret Pallotto primarily studies on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He was raised in Mifflin County and graduated from Lock Haven University.

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