San Luis Obispo/Thousand Oaks/Tustin, CA— Caregivers in San Luis Obispo, Thousand Oaks, and Tustin—all employees of BrightSpring/All Ways Caring—voted today by overwhelming majority to form their union with SEIU Local 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union. BrightSpring is a private agency home and community health services provider offering a range of long-term care services. This election means nearly 200 caregivers and direct support professionals now stand together in a union.
Caregivers at BrightSpring/All Ways Caring visit patients in their homes and provide vital services to those who need it. “Since home care workers don’t have a workplace, it’s easy for their rights and safety to get overlooked or ignored,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015, Secretary-Treasurer SEIU. “Because these caregivers don’t have a central location, their work is done in silos. Caregivers often struggle on their own without the support of on-site management or co-workers. By forming their union, they can now come together to create change, address problems, and improve worker and consumer safety.”
BrightSpring/All Ways Caring home care providers join approximately 400 of their co-workers who already formed their unions in the Sacramento, Stockton, and Fairfield areas in 2018 and 2019. The contracts negotiated by those workers improved job security, scheduling, and shift differentials involving multiple clients, short shifts, and long distance clients. These newest union members now also have a voice on the job. Next, they’ll take steps to form a bargaining team and negotiate their first union contract.
“When COVID started, this company treated us like there’s nothing happening. They never talked about COVID,” said Patricia Martinez, an All Ways Caring caregiver. “Now we’ll have a voice on the job to bring much needed, long needed improvements, like acknowledging that we’re in a pandemic and winning better wages to attract more caregivers.”
People are leaving this industry in droves. In a poll earlier this year, 20% of home care workers indicated they will likely leave this work this year, while demand for home care services grows. Ensuring that frontline workers have a voice on the job is an essential step in overhauling the broken long-term care industry.
Caregivers like Patricia have served throughout the pandemic as they struggled to get supplies and COVID-specific health and safety training from their employers. They knew that for most of their consumers, they were the first and last line of defense against contracting the disease.
This victory comes at a time of renewed interest in unions. In July alone, over 100 workers at two assisted living facilities—The Terraces at Park Marino located in Pasadena and The Sequoias in San Francisco—chose to form their unions with SEIU Local 2015. According to recent data from the U.S. National Labor Relations Board collected between October 2021 and March 2022, union representation petitions filed at the agency increased 57% from the same period a year ago. Fifty-four Starbucks company-owned stores have formally organized, an Amazon warehouse in New York City voted to form their first union, and Google Fiber contractors in Kansas City voted to unionize their office in March. Today’s win for the staff at BrightSpring/All Ways Caring is the latest victory in a pro-union movement that has gained traction over the COVID pandemic.