Nursing Home Workers and California’s Largest Union – SEIU Local 2015 – Hold Vigil to Honor the Lives of Residents and Caregivers Lost to COVID-19

June 18, 2020
Posted in Press Release

Workers and Union Leaders Across the State Honor Lives Lost While Calling on State and Local Leaders for Long-Term Solutions to the Aging Crisis

Los Angeles, CA — June 18  — Today, members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union representing 400,000 nursing home and home care workers throughout California, came together in honor of caregivers and patients who lost their lives to COVID-19 during the health crisis. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been over 2,000 nursing home related deaths and over 17,000 nursing home related cases in the state of California. The vigil united communities and recognized brave frontline workers and residents of nursing homes who have died due to the lack of PPE, working conditions, staffing standards, and more within nursing home facilities. 

Union leaders’ and members’ actions targeted homes across the state with five taking place at Windsor Care facilities. Concerns about lack of PPE and testing among workers became elevated as COVID-19 infection rates have risen at Windsor facilities across the state. In late May, after Windsor ignored concerns at the Windsor Care Center Sacramento, workers voted to authorize a strike, calling attention to the dire need for higher standards of care at facilities across the state. 

Actions across the state recognized the victims of COVID-19 while calling on industry leaders and lawmakers to take action to ensure that lives lost would not be in vain. Long before COVID-19 began taking the lives of the most vulnerable, California’s nursing home industry was already in critical condition, with fundamental flaws on display.  Now, leaders are calling for the restructuring of a broken system to establish better long term care for all Californians. 

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that millionaire and billionaire nursing home CEOs received blank checks from the state while healthcare workers and residents lives were put at risk with inadequate protections. The inability to modernize the state’s hobbled long term care system has paved the way for corporate structures that allow for owners to go unchecked, with little to no accountability for where state money was invested during the pandemic. 

SEIU Local 2015 is demanding the 10% increase in funding potentially being allocated towards nursing homes come with the requirement that that funding be directed towards resident care. Without the system of accountability, elder residents are left at risk of neglect while owners and executives pad their pockets with state funded money. This increase is a step towards the core demands union members have been fighting for including; respectable wages, access to medical grade PPE, paid sick leave, and testing for both workers and residents.

“The ravaging of our communities at the hands of COVID-19 has put the long-existing fundamental flaws of our nursing home system on display,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015, the state’s largest union representing 400,000 long term care workers, including 25% of the state’s nursing home workers. “In California, and throughout the country, nursing home executives have gone unchecked and in-turn have become experts at maximizing profits while minimizing accountability, resulting in cost cutting, gross understaffing, all while propelling profits forward, and leaving low paid workers and residents behind. It is time we put an end to the exploitation of our workers and residents.”

Media opportunities with SEIU Local 2015 and its members are available upon request. To view photos from the Day of Action on social media, follow hashtags #EssentialNotSacrificial, #ProtectWorkers, and see HERE.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, SEIU Local 2015 members and leaders have continued to address the ongoing needs of people working on the frontlines of our healthcare system and have remained committed to calling on the administration to prioritize the nation’s essential long term care workers.