NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) — The Pennsylvania nursing home workers strike is hitting close to home.
Workers at The Grove in New Castle have been striking since 7 a.m. Friday morning.
Matt Rubin, the representative for their Service Employees International Union Healthcare chapter, said 25 employees are out picketing, which is just about everyone who works at the nursing home.
Rubin said the group plans to continue the strike every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. until they get a new contract.
Lindsey Burns, a local licensed practical nurse, said the workers on strike are there for the residents.
“If the caregivers are on strike outside the nursing home, you know there’s a problem on the inside. We’re here for our residents. Without them, we wouldn’t have a job,” Burns said. “We’re negotiating for a better contract for all the healthcare workers in the building to ensure we can give our residents the care they deserve. That means living wages, affordable health insurance and following new state regulations for safe staffing in nursing homes.”
This comes after Governor Wolf came to an agreement to give nursing homes almost $600 million in aid from Medicaid payments.
“We know they have millions in taxpayer money to do this. We just won $600 million in the state budget for additional funding for nursing homes, and 70% of it is supposed to go to staffing and resident care,” Burns said.
According to a press release from SEIU Healthcare, the nursing home workers union in Pennsylvania, workers at 24 different nursing homes voted to strike on Friday.
“Our nursing home operates on agency staff almost every week, and they are paid two or three times more, and we even have to train them,” said Donna Pronio, a CNA in northeast Pennsylvania. “They also don’t have the bonds and connections with residents like we do, so residents suffer. The money spent on agency could – and should – be spent on hiring full time permanent staff, and investing in those of us who have been here for years. We have been the backbone of our nursing home and struggled through COVID – many of us brought COVID home to our families and one of our coworkers even died. Yet they can’t even offer us healthcare we can afford.”
The following are the union’s demands in negotiations, according to the press release:
- Substantial increases in wages for all existing employees to retain them at the bedside, and minimum wages in all job titles as follows.
- $16/hr for dietary, housekeeping, and other ancillary staff.
- $20/hr for Certified Nursing Assistants.
- $25/hr for Licensed Practical Nurses.
- Additional increases to recognize longevity and seniority to retain experienced caregivers and honor their years of service.
- Employer-paid health insurance.
- Protection of the existing contract in the event of a sale (“Successorship Language”).
- Ensure employers follow new state regulations governing staffing in nursing homes.
- A written commitment not to interfere in any way with the rights of workers who choose to form their union to demand accountability from private equity firms and bad-actor nursing home chains.
First News has reached out to The Grove at New Castle for a comment but did not receive one.