Nursing home workers rally to seek higher wages, better treatment, citing workload during the pandemic
The key event here was outside Heart & Hands Santa Cruz, where SEIU Local `15 said it has been trying to negotiate a contract with the long-term care facility’s ownership for three years.
Nursing home workers across the country rallied in various cities Thursday as part of a “national day of action” to spotlight the work they’ve done amid the COVID-19 pandemic and make their case for better treatment by both employers and the federal government.
In Santa Cruz, that included events organized by Service Employees International Union Local 2015, which represents 400,000 nursing home and home-care workers throughout California.
The key event here was outside Heart & Hands Santa Cruz, where the union said it has been trying to negotiate a contract with the long-term care facility’s ownership for three years.
Union members said management in the fall made an offer to increase workers’ wages if they agreed to decertify the union — an offer they rejected. Attempts to reach management by Lookout were unsuccessful.
“Just like we value our jobs, we want them to value us as employees,” said Mariela Guzman, a Hearts & Hands certified nursing assistant. “Treat us as employees, and not just another number.”
Beyond wages and benefits, Guzman and other workers cited issues around communication with management and safety procedures around infectious disease.
Nationwide, more than 170,000 COVID-related deaths have been tied to the long-term care industry, SEIU Local 15 leaders say.
The union is hoping that federal lawmakers will consider relief for workers in the industry, including a $450 billion package they’ve pitched to the Biden administration that they say would create 1-million-plus jobs in the long-term care field, which is largely staffed by “women and women of color.”
From keeping an eye on everything from businesses’ struggles to government finances, COVID Economy Watch is among eight Lookout initiatives documenting all aspects of the pandemic. For more, go to our COVID 2021 section, sign up for COVID Text Alerts and our COVID PM newsletter here, and leave feedback and ask questions at the end of this story.