Wimberley nurses who unionized say management is retaliating

The Right Step nurses rally in Wimberley. (Courtesy/Seth Hutchinson, CWA)
The Right Step nurses rally in Wimberley. (Courtesy/Seth Hutchinson, CWA)

WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) — Texas may be a right-to-work state, but nurses at a rehab facility in Wimberley have signed up to be part of a union. The nurses hoped the change would give them a voice and make their working condition better, but now they believe the change has caused management to retaliate.

Around a dozen nurses took to the streets of Wimberley Wednesday morning waving signs asking their employer, The Right Step, to do the right thing.

“The company kept on taking things away slowly from the employees,” said The Right Step employee Katherine Massengale.

The Right Step is a drug rehab facility just outside of Wimberley on Fischer Store Road. Nurses say the company froze pay for the past three years, took away 401k benefits and didn’t hire enough help. When they brought their concerns to management they say they were ignored.

“We had no voice, we weren’t being heard,” said Massengale.

So she and the other nurses turned to the Communications Workers of America, a union organization, as a last resort. “I felt like it might be something good to do,” she said.

But when the union signed the contract with The Right Step in December, everything changed. “It hasn’t been easy, my schedule along with other nurses have changed, times have changed on when to be there, when to report,” said Massengale.

For those with children in childcare, they say that change has been the hardest. Many have been written up for being late and threatened with the possibility of losing their job even though they have been there for years.

But the contract between CWA and The Right Step states the employer can change employee shifts as needed, determine what hours they work and set work schedules. CWA says they took it on faith that The Right Step wouldn’t make any dramatic changes.

“Management is doing this as punishment, they’re coming after LVNs there, messing with their schedules, changing long-established schedules as a way, I believe, to retaliate,” said CWA Vice President Seth Hutchinson.

CWA says every licensed nurse at the facility signed up to be part of the union. Although there are still areas to be improved, employees say they’re seeing some positive changes, like more lighting at the facility, a focus on the clients and a pay raise.

We reached out to The Right Step to ask about the recent changes, but have not received a response.

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