• Ocala nursing home workers threaten to strike if pay demands not met


    OCALA, Fla. - About 60 health care workers gave their employer an ultimatum: Pay us more or were going on strike in a month.

    The group works at the Lodge Health and Rehabilitation center in Ocala, a nursing home, where they say they haven't had a raise in three years.

    For 23 years Barbara Brown has worked as a housekeeper at the nursing home.

    Brown said several of her coworkers have been at the facility longer than she has. Now 60 union workers at the Lodge are prepared to strike.

    "We are dedicated workers here for many years. I feel like we deserve the raise we should have," said Brown.

    The United Health Care Workers Union is at odds with Greystone Health Management -- parent company of the Lodge and owner of more than two dozen facilities in Florida and Ohio.

    Employees at several of the facilities have voted to go on strike next month unless the company offers a better pay raise.

    Union officials said the dime per hour raise offer currently on the table isn't enough.

    Brown said that in all her years with Lodge she has never seen a similar kind of a problem over pay. She hopes there won't be a strike.

    Channel 9's Berndt Petersen called Greystone Health Management headquarters in Tampa to get reaction to the strike vote and to ask how the company would care for the 100 or so patients union employees said stay at the Ocala facility. He has yet to receive a response.

    Union officials insist the company would provide care, but Brown said she isn't sure how patients would react to it.

    "I don't know. I don't know. I just pray that we don't get to that point to have a strike. I don't want this to get to that point," said Brown.

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