Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Attributed To Low Wages Offered by Downstate For-Profit Ownership Groups

June 2, 2022


Contact:, (716)449-1620

Interview Opportunity

Caregivers in Upstate New York Take Their Stories to Elected Officials In Demand For Fair Contracts and Living Wages in Advance Of National Nursing Home Actions To Take Place Across 12 States

WHO: Nursing Home Workers, Congressman Brian Higgins, and other elected officials

WHAT: Round Table Discussion

WHEN: Friday, June 3, 2022 2:00 PM Press Conference Downstate Press may join via Zoom, here.

WHERE: Hyatt Regency of Buffalo, 2 Fountain Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14203

WHY: Twelve for-profit nursing home contracts in Upstate New York covering 1,200 healthcare workers all have expired. Nursing Home workers are represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and will join a nationwide call to action across 12 states as thousands of workers demand industrywide nursing home reforms.

The twelve Western New York nursing home facilities are owned or operated by 6 different out-of-town for-profit groups, mostly based out of New York City, some 300 miles from the care homes. The facilities include Autumnview Manor, Buffalo Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, Ellicott Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, Elderwood at Lockport, Elderwood at Williamsville, Fiddler's Green Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Garden Gate Manor, Gowanda Rehab & Nursing, Humboldt Nursing Home, Newfane Rehabilitation, North Gate Manor, and Seneca Health Care Center.

New York State’s nursing home reforms were long overdue and the COVID-19 pandemic exposed problems in nursing homes, including low wages and poor staffing levels. The nursing home reforms are meant to improve staffing levels and increase owner’s spending on bed-side caregivers to provide for residents, but several for-profit nursing homes are fighting against these laws. Six of the twelve facilities currently in negotiations with 1199SEIU are participants in a joint lawsuit against New York State’s new nursing home reform laws that set requirements on spending.1 The new staffing law requires that nursing homeowners spend 70% of their revenue on direct care to residents and 40% of that to be spent on direct care staffing the facility.2,3 The law also sets a 5% cap on profit margins. Five of the twelve for-profit facilities are operating well above the 5% profit margin cap, according to data reported to the New York State Department of Health.4

Each nursing home resident should receive a minimum of 3.5 hours of care per day, according to new staffing laws. Many of these 12 for-profit homes currently do not meet the standard5, but could if more staff were hired at competitive wage rates. “I’ve been there 9 years and I don’t even make $15 per hour,” says Donna Gregory, Certified Nurse Assistant at Garden Gate Manor. “It’s tough and it hurts. It makes me feel that I’m not worth anything, but I stay for my residents because I love what I do. Right now, I am the true the definition of living pay check to pay check,” says Gregory.

Some workers at Elderwood say they care for COVID patients and are earning only $13.20 per hour. “We just have the same conversation over and over,” says James Funderburk, Environmental Services Aide at Elderwood at Williamsville. “I never thought I would work in an industry where I would make less than other industries while taking care of a human life,” says Funderburk.

“More and more people are leaving to work elsewhere for more money,” says Cynthia Winkler, Certified Nurse Assistant at Autumnview Manor. At another for-profit, turnover rates are high. For example, of the 15 Elderwood facilities located across New York State, 12 facilities report higher than 50% turnover rates amongst staff.6 At least six of the same 15 facilities have low staffing levels according to US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.7 More job actions will likely occur at other nursing home facilities where workers are demanding better from for-profit Downstate and/or New Jersey based ownership groups. To date, both Elderwood at Lockport and Elderwood at Williamsville held informational pickets outside of their facilities, but other facilities are likely to follow their peers. This week, four facilities owned by Edward Farbenblum8 unanimously voted to authorize a 10-day notice for an informational picket to be sent to their employers. The informational picket notice will be issued to the McGuire Group’s Autumnview Manor, Garden Gate Manor, North Gate Manor, and Seneca Manor.

Nursing home workers at all 12 for-profit nursing homes are asking for similar wage scales and a starting wage rates for new hires above the current $13.20 area minimum wage that other caregivers have won in recent settlements, such as Weinberg Campus9 and The Grand Rehabilitation & Nursing at Delaware Park, formerly Emerald North.10 Weinberg Campus was short-staffed due to lower wages, but workers were able to win higher starting rates and Weinberg has successfully hired 78 new workers since January 1. Many at Weinberg Campus are now earning at least $15 per hour, well above the minimum wage, with increased pay based on experience. Two for-profit facilities owned and operated by Kenny Rozenberg11, will not be left out of the fight for living wages. Workers say they feel unappreciated by Rozenberg’s team at their Centers facilities in Buffalo. “They pretty much say, be happy that you have a job and take what we give and be grateful you have a job,” says Michael Turner, Cook at Ellicott Center. “That is not a good feeling at all. They don’t care anything about us as people or employees,” says Turner.

Caregivers working at 12 for-profit facilities across Western New York will hold a round table discussion with elected officials including Congressman Brian Higgins. Following

the roundtable, workers will gather at a press conference to announce a joint campaign to fight for $15 per hour and standard wage scales.

“1199's members -- frontline workers of the first order in nursing homes and similar facilities -- have worked tirelessly, before and during the pandemic, and deserve to be fairly compensated," said Congressman Brian Higgins. "I'm looking forward to hearing directly from employees at local facilities about the challenges they face, and about the fight for wages sufficient to make certain that our most vulnerable Western New Yorkers will be safely cared for,” said Higgins.

On Background: A list of all 12 facilities including ownership information as of 2022 is listed below.

WNY Nursing Home

Autumnview Manor

Garden Gate Manor

North Gate Manor

Seneca Manor

Humboldt Nursing Home

Fiddler's Green

Elderwood at Lockport

Elderwood at Williamsville

Ellicott Center

Buffalo Center

Newfane Rehabilitation

Gowanda Rehab & Nursing

Final Owner

Edward Farbenblum & Orly Lieberman

Edward Farbenblum & Orly Lieberman

Edward Farbenblum & Orly Lieberman

Jeffrey Goldstein; Lea Sherman; Alexander Sherman; Esther Mendlowitz; Tzvi Sherman; Yehuda B Sherman; Hindi Amsel

Jeffrey Goldstein; Chaim Lowenbraun

Jeffrey Rubin & Warren Cole

Jeffrey Rubin & Warren Cole

Kenneth Rozenberg; Jeff Sicklick

Kenneth Rozenberg; Jeff Sicklick

Newfane Operations: Maximus Newfane,LLC : Jonah Jay Lobell; Yisroel A Bornstein; Henry Steinmetz; Yaakov Weitman; Nisson Hirsch

Batia Zagelbaum; Esther Barth; Chaya Walden; Yechiel Zagelbaum; Yoel Zagelbaum