Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Attributed To Low Wages Offered by Out-Of-Town For-Profit Ownership Groups

May 31, 2022


Contact: April Ezzell, (716) 449-1620

Interview Opportunity

Nursing Home Workers Take Their Stories to Local Elected Officials In Demand For Fair Contracts and Living Wages

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

WHAT: Round Table Discussion

WHEN: Friday, June 3, 2022
2:00 PM Press Conference

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

WHY: Twelve for-profit nursing home contracts covering 1,200 healthcare workers all have expired. Nursing Home workers are represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

The twelve WNY nursing home facilities are owned by 6 different out-of-town for-profit groups. 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 home owners spend 70% of their revenue on direct care to residents, 40% of that is to be spent on staffing the facility.[2],[3]

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 standard[4], 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.[5] At least six of the same 15 facilities have low staffing ratios according to US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.[6]

More job actions will likely occur at other nursing home facilities where workers are demanding better from for-profit 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.

Workers at all 12 nursing homes are asking for similar wage scales and a starting wage rates for new hires above the current $13.20 minimum wage that other workers have won in recent settlements, such as Weinberg Campus[7] and The Grand at Delaware Park, formerly Emerald North.[8] 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.

Caregivers working at 12 for-profit facilities across WNY plan a round table discussion with local 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[9],[10]

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