Several employees of Meadow Park Health and Specialty Care Center took their work environment concerns to the picket line Tuesday afternoon.
Meadow Park has experienced 61 COVID-19 cases and two related deaths since the pandemic in March. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) began contract talks with Meadow Park in November.
The employees are seeking a $2 an hour wage boost and $5 an hour for working in the center's COVID-19 wing.
Sarah Lannen has been an employee at the center for one year. She said she joined the Tuesday demonstration to support her co-workers and the union.
"I love my job," Lennen said. "I love my residents and the people that I work with. I can't do my job without them and we demand a safe and healthy work environment," Lannen said. "When we had the COVID outbreak in our building I would go home after 16-hour shifts and cry, because I was so worried about my residents and my co-workers."
Carlotte Larson, a 20-year employee at Meadow Park, said she had to be quarantined after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
"It was really hard to be home quarantined and not being paid and I am still trying to get my pay," Larson said, adding that she was able to recover from COVID-19 and has since taken the vaccine.
During the informational picket along Highway 30 in St. Helens Tuesday, Jan. 26, Larson and Lennen disclosed that they both earn approximately $15 an hour at Meadow Park
"We are asking for fair wages and to be treated decently," Larson said.
The two care workers said they would be willing to strike if they had to for a fair wage contract.
The union represents approximately 35 Meadow Park employees.
The Chronicle reached out earlier this week to the director and corporate operators of Meadow Park for comments about the working environment and the contract negotiations. Our calls and emails had not been returned as of late Tuesday.