For-Profit WNY Nursing Home Workers to Join Day of Action, Launch National Campaign to Demand Industrywide ReformJune 8, 2022
Media Contact: AprilE@1199.org
Across 12+ states, thousands of workers to take demands national in coordinated, sustained campaign for industrywide reform including $15 minimum start rates for service workers, higher starting rates for new workers and standard wage scales
Campaign to include worker mobilizations, advocacy, investment aimed at reaching the Biden administration, state officials, nursing home employers directly
Buffalo, NY - 1199SEIU nursing home workers in Western New York continue their fight for fair contracts at 12 area for-profit nursing homes. More than 1,200 local caregivers are set to join a nationwide day of action happening in more than a dozen states on June 8, uniting their local demand for fair wages and going national with their campaign.
Last week, local caregivers told stories to Congressman Brian Higgins and other elected officials at a closed-door roundtable, highlighting the importance of trying to provide care to the most vulnerable residents while fighting for-profit downstate companies for fair wages! 1199SEIU members later announced a joint campaign of more than 1,200 nursing home workers who will plan coordinated job actions across our region to fight for a $15 minimum wage for service workers, higher starting rates for new caregivers, and wage scales for experienced caregivers - all to improve critically short staffed for-profit homes trying to meet New York State’s requirement for 3.5 hours of care per resident per day.
Nursing home workers have identified common issues across geographies and are organizing around demands including safe staffing, unions for all, and quality, affordable care for residents. From New York to California to Pennsylvania to Florida and beyond, these workers have identified solutions to our nation’s growing crisis in nursing homes that respect and protect workers and residents alike.
Now, local caregivers are taking their fight to a national level in a coordinated and sustained campaign that will include worker mobilizations, advocacy, and investment aimed at reaching the Biden Administration, state officials, and for-profit downstate nursing home employers directly. The Biden Administration has begun proposing measures to improve nursing home jobs and hold employers accountable, in part because nursing home workers have raised their voices directly to administration officials to demand reform.
In the Western New York area, 1199SEIU members at 5 different nursing homes will hold informational pickets next week including Fiddler’s Green Manor in Springville owned and operated by Jeffrey Goldstein and Chaim Lowenbraun and four McGuire group facilities owned by Edward Farbenblum including Autumn View Health Care Center in Hamburg, Garden Gate Health Care Facility in Cheektowaga, North Gate Manor in North Tonawanda and Seneca Health Care Center in West Seneca.
It’s not about me, it’s about the residents, it’s about the dignity for the patients,” says Awilda Villanueva, Certified Nurse Assistant at Seneca Health Care Center. When we say contract it’s not just about staff, it’s about the patients. McGuire is thinking about dollar signs and not the dignity of our patients that we serve,” says Villanueva.
“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 James Funderburk, Housekeeper Aide at Elderwood at Williamsville.
Nursing home workers from coast to coast are united in our demands for nothing short of transformation in our nation’s nursing home industry, which starts with listening to the residents and workers like me who care for them. While our country tries to move on from Covid-19, our pain from these past few years remains. We’ve lost friends, coworkers, and residents we care about. And to make matters worse, we’re still overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. Nursing home workers are coming together on June 8, across geographies, generations, and backgrounds, to say with one voice: now is the time for action. We refuse to wait any longer.”
Today, nursing home workers at two for-profit nursing homes owned and operated by Kenny Rozenberg, will hold a “March On The Boss” to deliver petitions demanding fair contracts and fair wages. Caregivers at Buffalo Center and Ellicott Center are ready to make their voices heard on the job, demanding better from downstate owner Rozenberg. Union members at all 12 for-profit homes participating in the coordinated campaign will wear stickers demanding that for-profit owners, “Respect Us, Protect Us, and Pay Us,” as part of today’s national day of action!
The twelve for-profit Western New York nursing targeted in the coordinated campaign for fair wages are owned or operated by 6 different out-of-town for-profit groups, mostly based out of New York City and New Jersey. The nursing homes included are 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.
Following decades of challenges made worse by a global pandemic, the nursing home industry has reached a critical juncture. Ten thousand people turn 65 daily and demand for care is skyrocketing. A recent study showed 47% of nursing homes are at risk of closing, and countless families are already struggling to find quality, affordable long term care for their loved ones. Workers are leaving the industry characterized by low pay, overwork and even underreported Covid deaths in droves.
“The status quo in our nursing homes is not working—not for workers, residents, or for families. As the nation looks to move past Covid-19, nursing home workers and residents are facing a system on the brink of collapse,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “It's Black and brown women who are keeping nursing homes running, caring for residents even as the industry barely hangs on. These same women are supporting the communities that have been devastated by overlapping crises. That’s why workers are taking action now across the country to demand nursing home workers be respected, protected, and paid living wages.”
For years, nursing home workers have been taking local action to demand respect on the job, greater protections, and livable wages. Far too many are being held back by employers who refuse to provide living wages, affordable healthcare, paid sick leave, or secure retirement. Employers have long devalued and dismissed the largely women of color care workforce, furthering the economic, racial, and gender inequities that hold all working people back.
Workers are now building an intergenerational, multi-racial movement to transform how we provide long term care in this country. On June 8, backed by allies and community leaders, workers will come together to escalate their activity with coordinated actions in states including California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia.
For additional details or to coordinate interviews, please reach out to AprilE@1199.org.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. We represent over 400,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.