'Stretched to the breaking point': 800 workers at 12 Pennsylvania nursing homes vote to strike

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About 800 workers at nursing homes across Pennsylvania have voted to authorize going on strike, reports the Erie Times-News.

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania said the state's nursing homes "are in crisis," with a workforce "stretched to the breaking point after decades of understaffing, lack of investment in a workforce that makes poverty wages, and a pandemic that took an unimaginable physical, mental, emotional and financial toll on caregivers."

The state's more than 13,000 COVID-19 nursing home deaths "are the result of a broken system that does not prioritize care or caregivers," SEIU Healthcare PA said.  

SEIU Healthcare PA said the employees voting to strike — which include nurses, nurse aides and other caregivers — are in separate contract negotiations. The vote allows workers at any of the following homes to issue a 10-day strike notice at any time:  

  • Saunders House (Wynnewood)
  • Powerback (Philadelphia)
  • Riverside Health and Rehab (Taylor)
  • The Gardens at East Mountain (Wilkes-Barre)
  • Oil City Health and Rehab 
  • Summit (Wilkes-Barre)
  • Rose City Health and Rehab (Lancaster)
  • The Gardens at Blue Ridge (Harrisburg)
  • Uniontown Health and Rehab 
  • Beaver Valley Health and Rehab (South Beaver Township)
  • Beaver Elder Care (Aliquippa)
  • The Grove at Washington 

Guardian Healthcare, owner of the Oil City facility, said it is "troubled" by the strike vote, according to the Erie Times-News. "The safety of our patients, residents and caregivers is, and always has been, our top priority. We are troubled that the SEIU is using our invaluable team of caregivers in an attempt to manipulate the negotiation process."

"It's important to remember that a vote to authorize a strike does not guarantee a strike will occur. Should the SEIU strike, we will continue to provide the quality of care our residents and their families expect," the company said in a statement cited by the Erie Times-News.

"This is really the culmination of two issues that have plagued long-term care in Pennsylvania for the better part of the last decade," said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, citing a workforce crisis and declining federal reimbursements.

The union is urging the state government to use federal COVID-19 relief to help nursing homes.

 

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