June 9, 2020

armor_feat.jpgSince the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis nursing home workers found themselves battling yet another obstacle in their already stressful jobs; this time low wages, inadequate staffing, and the lack of safe staffing laws took a back seat to their newest concern – proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). As nursing homes across NYS started to have more and more positive COVID residents, staff were rightfully concerned about their own safety. The fear of contracting the virus was on everyone’s mind as they worried not just about themselves, but feared bringing it home to their families. As members looked to their employer to help keep them safe, some employers fell short. Facilities lack of not only proper PPE but adequate quantities of it became problematic as more and more residents and staff fell ill.

On April 17, 2020 union members at Safire of the Northtowns wanted their frustrations and fears to be heard by the public and they decided the best way to do that, ironically, would be a silent vigil outside of their facility. Approximately 20 employees came out at shift change, keeping six feet apart from each other and stood silently. The signs they held did the talking for them: “Proper PPE Saves Lives” “Fight the Virus Not the Workers” “Don’t Send Us Into Battle Without Armor.” The press was there, cars passing by honked in support and the members message spoke volumes without saying a word. Days after the vigil, the employees were given significantly better PPE to wear when caring for the COVID residents at the facility proving once again that we are stronger together and when we fight, we win.