New Legislation Will Boost Nursing Home Worker Wages and Reduce Staffing StandardsMarch 18, 2022
The Florida Legislature has wrapped up its session for 2022. Unfortunately, the Legislature spent most of its time either ignoring the needs of working people in the state or actively attacking them. For nursing home workers and residents, there is both very good and very bad news.
First, the bad news.
This year, tragically, the nursing home industry succeeded in rolling back staffing standards almost to where they were 20 years ago. Starting in July, CNA minimums will be reduced from 2.5 hours to 2.0 hours/patient/day. For a typical 120 bed nursing home, this means that over all three shifts, minimum staffing for CNAs will be cut from 37 CNAs to just 30. The nursing home can count social workers, therapists, and others to make up the difference (for more, watch this animation video) We know that the result of this is going to be higher CNA workload and worse resident care. This is not the end of the battle, but it is a defeat.
“This legislation only benefits the profiteers at the expense of our elderly,” said CNA Joan Phillips. “A better and honest solution to staffing shortages, and to improve care for patients would be to make sure caregivers are protected, respected and paid fairly.”
Now, the good news:
The legislature passed a budget with a $15 minimum wage for all Florida nursing home workers. Starting in October of this year, nursing homes will receive Medicaid money that they can ONLY spend to raise nursing home worker wages to a minimum of $15. This minimum is for ALL nursing home workers, including CNAs, dietary, housekeeping and laundry workers. This would not have happened without our LTC lobbyists—nursing home workers--- in Tallahassee (for more, watch this video) year in and year out, telling their stories and pushing legislators. This isn’t the end of this battle, either, as $15 is just a waypost on way to a real living wage, with quality affordable benefits.
But the important point is this—without the union, the staffing defeat would have been much worse, and the $15 wage pass through would have never happened. This victory was possible because of the hard work and testimony of nursing home workers.
“This is a major victory that we accomplished together,” said longtime CNA Sophia Colley. “It’s a reminder that when healthcare workers unite through our union and fight, we win.”