Los Angeles, CA – Members of SEIU Local 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union and California’s largest labor union representing nearly 450,000 nursing home workers and home care providers, are picketing across Rockport Brius owned facilities in California to demand safer staffing standards to ensure that all residents receive the high quality care they deserve. They are holding nine pickets across the Southland over the course of three weeks in July, including on July 6th at Centinela Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre in Inglewood, on July 13th at Vernon Healthcare Center, and on July 20th at Gardenview Healthcare Center in Claremont.
There has long been a staffing shortage in California’s nursing homes, and this issue was only exacerbated during the COVID pandemic. This has resulted in alarming turnover rates among underpaid and underprotected care workers. Sixty percent of Brius facilities—one of the largest nursing home operators in the state, with 77 facilities across California—suffer a total nursing staff turnover higher than the state median—itself an alarming rate. And according to allegations made in one lawsuit, Brius keeps its facilities understaffed on purpose, for the sake of maximizing profits. In other words, the vicious cycle of low staffing levels leading to burnout and high turnover leading to even lower staffing levels is manufactured.
Since 2017, California’s Department of Health has issued almost a dozen health citations against Brius facilities, ranging from broken sewage systems to improper infection protocol. Nursing home work is an essential, frontline job, and despite being hailed as heroes during the early months of the pandemic, nursing home workers are leaving their facilities in droves..
Recently, CalMatters reported that Rockport/Brius is slipping through a legal loophole to get dozens of nursing homes licensed just before state reforms meant to provide better oversight take effect. The Sacramento Bee and Washington Post recently exposed Brius Healthcare and its self-dealing financial schemes to get rich off taxpayers and elderly residents.
According to a 2022 poll of SEIU 2015 nursing home members, staffing shortages in the healthcare industry was the number one issue of concern and nearly half of nursing home workers said that they were somewhat likely or very likely to leave their current position in the next year.
“Long-term care workers are some of the most essential workers in our communities. They have served and protected our loved ones throughout the pandemic and beyond, yet are caring for more residents than they can safely attend to, working double shifts sometimes exceeding 16 hours, are at times denied sick days and, understandably, think about leaving these jobs they love,” said SEIU 2015 President Arnulfo De La Cruz. “In order to truly transform the nursing home industry, we need to ensure that these jobs can attract and retain the workforce our communities depend on. We’re taking action today to bring attention to the urgent need to invest in our frontline heroes and the older and disabled folks they care for.”
“Our nursing homes are dangerously understaffed, and it breaks my heart every day to see how our residents are not able to get the quality of care they need because providers are spread so thin. We work double, triple shifts and that still isn’t enough. And we aren’t paid enough to compensate for our time and efforts,” said Nina Vasquez, an employee at Norwalk Skilled Nursing and Healthcare Center. “Working in skilled nursing facilities is an essential job, yet we’re struggling in our workplace. We hope to get a contract with higher wages that will make it possible for us to have better staffing at Rockport/Brius facilities.”
“Not a lot of people know how hard it is to work in a nursing home,” said Nancy Flores, a nursing home employee at East Terrace Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. “It’s a labor of love. It’s back-breaking work. We put our all into it. So if we’re doing all that, why can’t we get decent pay and safe staffing levels to make sure that we can give residents our best?”
“We’re understaffed and overworked,” said Dolores Solarzano, a nursing home employee at East Terrace Rehabilitation Center. “All we want to do is care for our residents and make sure that they have what they need. But we also need to have what we need, and we’re just not getting it.”
As the nursing home industry is currently in crisis, SEIU 2015 members are fighting for better staffing standards, including benefits and wages to attract the workers these facilities desperately need. In a month of concerted actions, they’re putting pressure on Brius to do their part by improving conditions in their facilities.
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.