11/4/07

Union's tactics worry seniors at O'Connor Woods

Since its inception, O'Connor Woods has maintained a friendly relationship among the founders, the Dominican order of nuns, directors, administrators, employees and residents. They formed a strong, close and thriving community. We would like to continue this unity without outside interference and avoid tension.

Many residents believe the union election that was held on Friday was divisive and appears to have created a hostile and insecure environment for employees and residents. We want to continue what's been a fair and friendly existence. O'Connor Woods has been fair to its employees. The residents' $100,000 Christmas fund for employees is one determining factor.

An Oct. 20 article in The Record lacked the investigative qualities that are so important to an unbiased story. The 18 members of clergy who signed a letter portraying O'Connor Woods as an unfair and unjust organization are uninformed. This is based on the fact Carol Been, a Lutheran minister from San Jose and deputy director of the Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice, sent the letter. She's known as a social activist.

Edward T. Burda, Stockton

The residents 'love it'

Enough already. Articles in The Record about O'Connor Woods aren't true. Residents I've met love it as a safe, well-run place with every chance for appropriate activities and independent living choices. We pick which meal we eat and who we eat with. The menu choices are great and varied.

The employees seem to like their jobs. All of them couldn't possibly be pretending they're happy with their jobs. They've become good friends. Turnover doesn't seem to be a problem.

Mary Ellen Zawilla, Stockton

Higher costs would hurt

I've been a resident of O'Connor Woods for five years. When I moved in, this was a fantastic place with employees and residents having great camaraderie. Since the Service Employees International Union has been involved, there has been an antagonistic climate.

I can't understand why The Record said O'Connor Woods, especially Executive Director Scot Sinclair, is averse to "bargaining consistently." The National Labor Relations Board has reviewed numerous union complaints. They all were thrown out. If O'Connor Woods is engaging in "stall tactics and union busting," the board wouldn't have dismissed the complaints.

I can't believe how much mileage an incident about an employee supposedly removed from the property has received in The Record.

A quote from union spokesman Mason Stockstill - "in our opinion, O'Connor Woods is not treating their workers to the same standards as other Catholic health care institutions" - was a joke.

This isn't like any other "institution." This is an independent residential facility. The residents pay all costs, including salaries, health insurance, retirement funds, vacations and sick pay, etc. Not Medi-Cal. Not insurance companies. But every one of us pays for services provided. The majority of us are living on pensions and meager Social Security payments.

The $4 per hour the union is promising employees would raise our rents by more than $500 a month. Retirement benefits aren't very large for most of us. Each year, a huge amount of money is donated by residents at Christmas. Each employee receives a nice monetary gift. Some employees readily forget about this.

The clergy and The Record should visit our facility and talk to residents.

Maybe The Record could report both sides of the story. What a novel concept.

Lena Vasconcellos, Stockton

Employees 'like' jobs

We've been residents of O'Connor Woods since June and are more than satisfied. I've talked to a number of employees and they're always very pleasant. They say they like their jobs and enjoy working here.

Regarding the union, I've been on both sides. There is good and bad. Some have a tendency to make issues, trying to convince employees things aren't very good.

The Record's Oct. 20 article seemed to be slanted toward the union. Why not get information from both sides? Check what each says and publish an article with facts.

Earl W. Ringness, Stockton

Care that's nonprofit

What a sad state of affairs it is for O'Connor Woods, one of the most unique and beautiful retirement communities in the Central Valley.

I worked there for seven years, and there is no other comparable facility in the Valley. The environment, care and services are unsurpassed. I was welcomed and treated with respect and affection by most residents, who appreciate everything the staff does for them.

A generation that planned and saved for retirement, through no fault of its own, has faced a huge battle with the union and employees they've bonded with in their home.

When I worked at O'Connor Woods, I never lost sight of the fact I worked for a not-for-profit organization. The employees are working for the residents.

Do they still acknowledge O'Connor Woods is a not-for-profit senior residential community. Are they honoring, connecting and inspiring seniors? Are they transforming how people perceive and experience aging?

Cindy Welborn, Stockton

(recordnet.com)

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