Bargaining Team members shed tears of joy and relief
as they reach a deal with facility operators during pandemic.
Delano County, CA: Nursing home workers at Delano District Skilled Nursing Facility, who had authorized their colleagues on the bargaining team to call a strike, reached an eleventh hour agreement with the employer on Tuesday that provides wage increases over two years, hazard pay for staff working in COVID-19 red zones, a wage differential for those working the overnight shift, and employer coverage of half of health insurance premiums increases.
“I think our decision to strike showed facility operators that we were ready and in agreement: there’s a strong and urgent need for improved conditions at the facility and a big part of that solution is wages in line with neighboring facilities,” said Yolanda Cassi, an LVN who’s worked at the facility for 28 years. “We hope this puts an end to the ‘Great Resignation’ here at Delano.”
The workers had been bargaining since 2021, with low wages—and the resulting short staffing—the focal issues. A number of workers quit their jobs at the facility as a result of low wages, and there has been no effort to replace them, resulting in one person often doing the amount of work meant for three. Until this week, there was no movement beyond the employer’s initial offer of zero wage increases.
“We really believe that this will help Delano attract more permanent staff,” said Marilyn Lagula, a CNA at the facility. “We have a lot of openings for regular full-time staff that the residents can get to know and trust. This could put an end to the facility’s overreliance on temporary agency staff.”
“We’re dangerously short staffed and on top of that we have to add all the additional work covering training, guiding, and finding the temporary help,” said Irene Balderas, an LVN. “Many aren’t experienced, they’re new, and they look lost. I now have hope that the facility will be able to attract and retain qualified permanent staff to start building this place back to what it can be.”
“This is a great step for our members working at Delano. This is an industry that needs more investment like this up and down the state,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015. “Our members’ vision is staff-to-resident ratios that provide for quality, compassionate care; training, career ladders, and opportunities to stand together in unions so workers can provide better care while making a career from the work we love. SEIU local 2015 is working to do just that in California through our ‘Put Care First’ agenda, and supporting our members in action at their bargaining tables and, if necessary, on their picket lines and strikes.”
This threatened strike came on the heels of numerous actions recently taken by SEIU Local 2015 to bring attention to the crisis facing the nursing home industry and broader long-term care community, including several demonstrations across California to raise awareness of the “Time for $20” campaign for long-term caregivers. SEIU Local 2015 also recently proposed a statewide Quality Standards Board to oversee California’s troubled nursing home industry. Over the past several months, SEIU Local 2015 members demonstrated at long-term care facilities across California to highlight the staffing crisis, show support for improved conditions, and to put pressure on those with the power to make the necessary change. Delano District Skilled Nursing Facility was one of the locations advocating for higher wages. Read more here.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.