Long-term Care Summit Celebrates Leaders & Challenges Them to Continue to Build PowerAugust 4, 2023
Nursing home workers from across Florida gathered for a two-day 1199SEIU Summit. The event brought together union delegates and leaders to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments, identify challenges in their industry and find solutions.
The summit began with a dinner and an awards presentation to recognize outstanding leaders. Afterwards, they ate popcorn and watched a TV series called “Maid” which is about a young mom and low wage worker and the hardships she faces due to her shady employer and lack of reliable safety net programs. The show resonated with many of the workers who watched it because nursing home workers face similar challenges and far too many struggle to make ends meet.
The second day of the summit began with a fun ice breaker that taught team building skills. Next, they reviewed the results of the Reach Every Member campaign which challenged them to engage and assess all of their coworkers so they can identify strengths, weaknesses and the potential to build worker power at their facility.
The goal of the summit was to give nursing home workers the tools they need to be effective leaders and grow union membership at their facility because there’s strength in numbers.
“During this campaign, we reached out to more than 70% of workers and we’re very proud of this accomplishment,” said Shirley Vent, a certified nursing assistant. “As leaders, membership growth is an important part of the work we do because the more workers we can get to unite through our union, the more power we have to make positive changes that benefit all workers.”
In addition to the successful Reach Every Member Campaign, leaders celebrated another significant victory – winning a $15 minimum wage. It was a long hard road and fight to get Florida lawmakers to include the higher minimum wage in the 2022 state budget. The majority of nursing home workers are receiving at least $15 per hour with the exception of some subcontracted workers. Leaders vowed to continue fighting to ensure every nursing home worker gets $15.
The summit also featured a wellness presentation and exercises to help workers cope with the high stress associated with their work - which increased significantly during the pandemic and continues to take a toll on caregivers due to short staffing and high turnover.
“As a caregiver, we spend so much time caring for others, so we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. It was nice to get a chance to focus on our well-being at the Summit,” said Karen Scott, a member organizer. “I will take the lessons I learned from this summit and share it with my coworkers.”