Lancaster, CA—Nursing Home workers employed at Desert Canyon Post-Acute in Lancaster, owned Pursue Health, opted last week to form their union with SEIU Local 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care workers Union. Nearly 100 full-time, regular part-time, and on-call service and maintenance employees including certified nursing assistants, restorative nursing assistants, nursing assistants, unit secretaries, dietary aides, cooks, housekeeper/janitors, laundry aides, activity aides, therapy aides, certified medication aides, and maintenance assistants will have a Union for the first time.
“Nursing home workers serve on the front lines protecting our most vulnerable. Both workers and facility operators want to address wages, healthcare benefits and working conditions to address the need to attract workers and safely staff their facilities,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, President-elect of SEIU Local 2015. “Management at Pursue Health agreed to recognize the workers’ majority decision to form their union. This is an important first step in a new era of collaboration that benefits everyone.”
Not only is union membership good for workers, there are safety benefits to unionized nursing homes, as well. A study published this year found that unionized nursing homes had lower worker infection rates and nearly 11% fewer patient deaths from Covid-19.
The formation of this new facility union comes at a precarious moment for California’s long-term care industry, which has been battered by the dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and pre-existing workforce shortages. California alone has lost 11% of its nursing home workforce, while the demand only continues to grow. A poll by SEIU Local 2015 found that staffing shortages in the healthcare industry were the number one concern of nursing home workers—edging out inflation, COVID-19, affordable healthcare, affordable housing, and the economy, among other issues. 82% said they were extremely concerned, with an additional 8% expressing concern.
Workers at Desert Canyon Post-Acute now have a way to share their voice on the job. Next, they’ll take steps to form a bargaining team and negotiate their first union contract. Today’s victory is the latest win in a pro-union movement that has surged over the last few years.