Centers Nursing Home Workers Win New Union Contract & Call for Nursing Home Reform!January 29, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: April Ezzell, 1199SEIU Communications (716) 449-1620
Possible Interview Opportunity
Local Caregivers overwhelmingly Vote to Ratify New Agreement.
More than 300 Nursing Home workers at Buffalo Center, Ellicott Center and Corning Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing voted this week to ratify a new contract with their employer this week. The workers are represented by 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East and had been working without a contract since it expired last April. The new agreement runs through April 2022.
Centers caregivers have been among the lowest paid nursing home workers in Western New York and have been on the frontlines battling COVID-19 for months. Centers Health Care operates 49 skilled nursing facilities in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Workers were ready to picket the facilities last week but were able to reach a settlement the night before the job action.
Highlights of the new contract include significantly higher minimum rates for nursing staff, a 2% general wage increase, pension improvements, a yearly uniform allowance, and longevity bonuses. Increasing the start rate for new hires was a major goal for the Union to help with recruitment and retention of staff, which has been a problem at the Centers.
“I am happy we didn’t have to picket, but I think this made us stronger and we will be ready to fight for more at our next go-round,” says Ishma Marshall, Certified Nursing Assistant at Ellicott Center in Buffalo.
“I’ve been here 33 years and I love my residents and my job! We are dedicated and we deserved a fair salary raise and when workers stand together, we can do anything” says Gloria Reed, a Licensed Practical Nurse at Buffalo Center for Rehabilitation & Nursing.
1199SEIU represents more than 4,000 nursing home workers in the greater Western New York area and more recently settled agreements covering almost twenty facilities. Other area nursing home contracts ratified by union members included higher start rates, wage increases, and other benefit improvements such as increased pension contributions.
“We were fighting to get our pay equal to everyone else’s so employees stop leaving for other jobs,” says Farron Grant, a Certified Nurse Assistant and Unit Clerk at Ellicott Center. “I’m glad we have a fair contract,” says Grant.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed challenges and only amplified issues in the nursing home industry that have long existed – short staffing, low wages, high turnover, reliance on agency and per diem staff, inadequate infection control, profiteering, and insufficient state oversight – resulting in reduced standards of care and a workforce struggling to earn enough to take care of themselves and their families.
“Nursing home workers should not have to fight so hard just to win a decent wage and some benefit improvements. But that is the way it is with these owners. The Centers workers deserve every penny they won in this contract settlement,” says Todd Hobler, 1199SEIU Vice-President.
1199SEIU representing 60,000 nursing home workers across New York will soon launch a statewide campaign for the comprehensive nursing home reform needed to ensure residents receive the highest levels of care, and workers are able to remain safe and healthy as they deliver care to their residents. “The end goal of the campaign is to ensure the billions of taxpayer dollars being spent to provide care to vulnerable New Yorkers are actually being spent on care and not siphoned out in excessive profits,” says Hobler.
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.