Friday, Dec. 1, 2023
Contact: Emily Dong | email@example.com | 267-761-1502
“If you’re not investing in us, then you are not investing in the county”: Westmoreland County Workers Call On the County to Prioritize Public Services and Resident Care
County workers, including caregivers at Westmoreland Manor, picketed for competitive union wages and benefits as concerns about public service staffing shortages grow.
GREENSBURG, PA – On Friday, December 1st, Westmoreland County workers held a one-day informational picket outside of the County-owned nursing home Westmoreland Manor, calling on the County to invest in quality public services and resident care. Over 60 workers, including caregivers at Westmoreland Manor, rallied for a new union contract with higher wages, job protections, and strong benefits designed to make county jobs competitive and attractive.
“It breaks my heart that residents are forced to wait for their basic needs to be met because of a lack of staff,” said Carol Marol, a licensed practical nurse at Westmoreland Manor for 26 years and President of the SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania Union Chapter. “Tell me: Do we deserve enough 911 operators to help when called? Do we deserve enough nursing home workers so that our elderly receive the best care possible? Westmoreland County has to make these wages more competitive, or else our county will lose the best caregivers.”
Workers said the future of Westmoreland County public services such as 911, winter road maintenance, and resident care is at stake with the new contract. Workers are concerned that current raises proposed by the County will do little to stop increasing numbers of employees from leaving county jobs for higher-paying, private jobs.
“Our Union members in Westmoreland County work every day to protect the most vulnerable residents in our community,” said Melissa Jenkins, an Inspector with the County. “Too often, their wages and working conditions fail to make ends meet for the workers and their families. It’s time for the County Commissioners to come up with a plan to staff the County and make it worthwhile for Westmoreland County residents to work in Westmoreland.”
The wages, protections, and benefits proposed by the County workers and Westmoreland Manor caregivers are the same as what union workers at dozens of privately-owned nursing homes across Pennsylvania already have.
“I am really concerned about the future. I want to know that these residents will have caregivers 20 years from now who will be able to care for them as I have these past 20 years,” said Sharon Stinebiser, a housekeeper at Westmoreland Manor who previously worked as a nurse aide. “People used to come running for jobs at the county home. Now we’re lucky if we can keep the staff we have. We need what caregivers at private homes across the state already have: fair wages and benefits.”
The workers and Westmoreland County are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on December 5th and 7th.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, uniting tens of thousands of professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home- and community-based services, and state facilities across the Commonwealth. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of health care workers and ensuring quality care and healthy communities for all Pennsylvanians.