FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2022
Contact: Karen Gownley, 717-805-6070; firstname.lastname@example.org
700 Nursing Home Workers Launch Labor Day Weekend In Solidarity – Holding Unfair Labor Practice Strikes Across PA For Staffing, Better Jobs, Better Care
Union Workers Hold Two of PA’s Largest Corporate Nursing Home Chains Accountable, Are Joined By Supporters and Labor Across the State
Statewide, PA: Hundreds of workers from 14 nursing homes across the state started their unfair labor practice strikes today after Comprehensive Healthcare and Priority Healthcare failed to provide significant enough investments into staffing and care. Negotiations started Thursday morning and ended in the early hours of Friday morning.
“Our goal has always been – and continues to be – to get a fair contract that invests in this entire workforce and will meaningfully address the staffing crisis,” said Matthew Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “But the offers on the table still fall short – Comprehensive and Priority are failing to create the kind of wage scales we’ve been able to achieve with other providers and committing to affordable health insurance. These workers have been underpaid and disrespected for far too long, and it’s both them and the residents they care for who suffer.”
Workers were joined by elected leaders, members of other unions, allies, and even nursing home residents, 93demanding accountability for the $600M in public funds nursing homes will receive in the state budget, 70% of which is to be spent on staffing and bedside care.
Colleen Boley, a resident at the Grove at New Castle and President of the Resident Council, joined the workers and spoke on behalf of the residents, “We want the public to know that we support the workers, and we’re proud to stand with them and support the union wholeheartedly. Our message is to stay out here as long as you can to get the pay and benefits you deserve.”
“They’re offering us 50 or 75 cent raises, and that’s just not good enough,” said Liz Wright, a CNA of 25 years from Harrisburg who works for one of the homes owned by Priority. “The companies said they need more money, so we got them more – $600 million. And yet they still want to take from us.”
Taking away usable health insurance is one of the sticking points at Priority. The company wants to move all its workers onto a plan that is not accepted by many local providers. Workers at Gardens of Easton Memory Care, who are part of the strike, were moved into the plan a few years ago, which forces them to travel an hour for things like mammograms.
“Nobody around here takes this insurance. We have to go to New York for routine care that’s in- network,” said Jeanette Mulero, from Easton. “I pay premiums out of every paycheck for me and my kids but we can’t even use it. It’s useless.”
There are no additional bargaining dates set up at this time, but union workers want to get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible.
“This was an incredibly hard decision – nobody ever wants to go on strike,” said Lindsey Burns, an LPN from Western Pennsylvania. “But staffing has gotten worse and worse since Comprehensive took over. We can’t continue like this. We need real investment not just to hire new people but also retain those of us who have been here for years and have the connection to our residents and experience to take care of them the way they deserve.”
“We know it can be done,” said Matt Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania as he spoke to members in Camp Hill. “Other nursing home chains have settled contracts in the past week that have strong wage scales, affordable healthcare, and an investment in training and education for workers. Comprehensive and Priority need to follow that lead and be on the right side of history.”