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uesday, November 10 is a National Day of Action in the Fight for $15 movement. Western New York healthcare workers are joining thousands across the country in calling for higher wages and union rights for all. The caregivers, members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, will hold pickets at two nursing homes, where they are fighting for a path toward a $15 an hour minimum wage. The picket is part of a union wide fight to lift low-wage healthcare workers and their children out of poverty and to ensure good jobs in order to protect quality health care.

“What is our moral character?” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “Are we a place where the lucky take all, and the left-out have nothing? Or are we going to be a place where all New Yorkers – working people, immigrants, students, artists, musicians, seniors – can build a life with security, fairness, opportunity and dignity? In one of the richest states in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, this is the central moral question we have to confront.”

Why are we picketing at Waterfront and Newfane? A disturbing corporate trend in the nursing home industry shows that long-term care facilities are being bought by private investors, who are putting profit before the mission of providing quality care. This business model, purchasing nursing homes for equity and then reducing employee wages and benefits to turn a profit, has had serious consequences. The employees cannot support themselves and their families with substandard wages and without economic security. They are forced to work elsewhere, creating short staffing — a major problem with serious consequences for workers and their frail and elderly residents.

Sherry Coder, a housekeeper at Newfane Rehabilitation Center said, “I’ve worked here for 7 years and I make $9.72 an hour ... that’s not right. Something needs to be done to help nursing home workers earn a decent wage. I have to take care of my family too. We work hard – Newfane is the residents’ home and they deserve to have it kept clean--it’s important they live in a healthy environment and we do that for them.”

“When these new owners took over a few years ago, they cut wages, benefits and staff. We’re working harder for less and all of us here at Waterfront, including our residents, deserve better,” said Farron Grant a certified nursing assistant at Waterfront for over 11 years.

The campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour began as a series of small protests by fast food workers three years ago and has grown into a national movement of low-wage workers, from nursing home and homecare workers, to retail and airport workers.

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 go

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