As the Governor Calls for Nursing Home Worker Empowerment and the Senate Lays the Foundation for Fundamental Reform Through A Quality Standards Board…
Members of SEIU 2015 will again mobilize across the state in a series of actions to address dangerously low staffing levels and the “Great Resignation” that continues to plague nursing homes. Workers continue to push for statewide quality standards board.
May 24, 2022, Los Angeles, CA – Today, SEIU Local 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union and California’s largest labor union representing more than 400,000 nursing home workers and home care providers, is holding a statewide day of action—their fourth in as many months—rallying at nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state in addition to the Capitol Mall in Sacramento to continue to draw attention to the industry’s “Great Resignation” crisis and dangerously low staffing levels.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a pre-existing crisis in California’s nursing home industry, with essential caregivers—mostly women, mostly women of color—leaving at alarming rates due to low wages and the dangerous workplace conditions laid bare over the last two years. SEIU Local 2015 members are participating in these actions throughout California in order to highlight the care industry crisis, show member support for improved conditions, and to put pressure on those with the power to make the necessary change.
“Despite finally being recognized as heroes during the early months of the pandemic, our long-term care workers, majority women of color, don’t receive the pay, benefits, or respect that adequately reflect the essential and valuable nature of their job. At the same time, corporate nursing home lobbyists are in Sacramento asking for higher reimbursement rates to make even more money off the backs of our essential caregivers,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015. “In order to truly transform the nursing home industry for the better, we need to implement changes that make jobs in the long-term care industry more attractive, safer, and sustainable. We’re taking action today to bring attention to the urgent need to invest in our frontline heroes and the vulnerable folks they care for.”
Earlier this spring, SEIU Local 2015, in partnership with California State Senator Henry Stern and Assembly member Miguel Santiago, proposed a statewide Quality Standards Board to establish a number of industry-wide standards for California’s nursing homes and their essential workers, including setting an industry-wide minimum wage, implementing safe staffing level requirements, strengthening benefits including access to healthcare and paid sick leave, and enforcing certain training requirements. It would also give those on the front lines an important seat at the table. Union members and legislators are fighting for inclusion of this proposal in the upcoming state budget.
“Nursing home workers have been on the front lines providing vital care to our community’s most vulnerable residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, they’ve been paid low wages and forced to endure poor working conditions, which has led to skyrocketing turnover rates in nursing home facilities across the state,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago. “The proposed legislation will establish necessary standards across the nursing home industry that will make sure our caregivers are protected, respected, and adequately paid.”
“Too many nursing home operators in California have prioritized profits over people for years, which has created a crisis in California’s long-term care industry,” said Senator Henry Stern. “We need to act urgently to make jobs in this industry more attractive and sustainable, so nursing home residents receive the quality care they deserve. The Quality Standards Board will ensure essential nursing home workers are finally recognized as the health care heroes they are.”
Nursing homes workers were hit hard by COVID-19, suffering high infection rates that brought long overdue national attention to this broken industry. More than 238,000 nursing home workers left the industry nationwide since the start of the pandemic. California lost 11% of its nursing home workforce, while demand increases. Each month’s action since February signals the growing frustration and the growing crisis as momentum builds in workers’ urgent calls for improved standards. Nursing home workers are determined to make their voices heard and are putting pressure on legislators to enact change.
“Nursing home workers like myself need to have a seat at the table,” said Jessie Sutton, a CNA Pines at Placerville. “Our voice is not only reflective of worker’s needs, but also we are the voice of our residents, who suffer when we are so short staffed, overworked, and pulled in so many different directions. That is why we are urging the establishment of a Skilled Nursing Quality Standards Board. So that both nursing home workers and residents transform the nursing home industry into a better, safer, and fairer industry!”
In addition to today’s rally in Sacramento, demonstrations are taking place at nursing homes across the state, including in Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Bay Area. Nursing home workers and supporters will gather outside these facilities to advocate for higher industry standards, safe staffing levels, and increased wages. Workers will share their stories to underscore the need for more staffing, higher wages and improved workplace safety.
This day of action comes on the heels of numerous actions recently taken by SEIU Local 2015 to bring attention to the crisis facing the broader long-term care community—both in private homes and in nursing homes in California – including recent demonstrations at both the Los Angeles and Alameda County Board of Supervisors offices in support of the “Time for $20” campaign.
Participating SEIU members will be available on-site at all locations for interviews and can speak to today’s actions in addition to the breadth of work the Union is doing to combat this crisis and ensure better wages and benefits for their members, with the goal of dramatically reforming the industry for its long-term survival.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.