As workers flee the long-term care industry, NewGen Health employees—members of SEIU Local 2015—picket at Fountain View SubAcute and Nursing Center to fight for a strong contract that improves workplace conditions, pay, and benefits
Los Angeles, CA – Today, nursing home workers of SEIU Local 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union representing more than 400,000 long-term care workers in California, picketed at the Fountain View SubAcute and Nursing Center in Los Angeles to call for a strong contract that improves wages and establishes safer workplace protections for staff and those they care for.
Throughout the pandemic, essential nursing home workers at Fountain View have been on the front lines providing vital care. Despite the valuable role these healthcare heroes serve in their community, NewGen Health—the corporate operator of the Fountain View nursing home—has refused to provide meaningful proposals to address the low wages and poor working conditions leading to high staff turnover. In fact, NewGen canceled its bargaining session following an action outside the company’s headquarters last month and canceled scheduled negotiations again yesterday after learning of today’s picket.
“California’s long-term care workers have been on the front lines protecting our most vulnerable throughout the pandemic, all while struggling to survive on low wages and inadequate healthcare benefits,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015. “The lack of movement in these contract negotiations is unacceptable and NewGen Health must be held accountable. With half of nursing home workers across the state saying they’re likely to leave within a year, we need to overhaul the broken nursing home industry immediately, and this process can only begin once providers finally stand with their workers and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Today’s action takes place against the backdrop of a nursing home industry battered by the dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and workforce shortages. More than 238,000 nursing home workers have left the industry nationwide since the start of the pandemic. California alone has lost 11% of its nursing home workforce, while the demand only continues to grow. A poll earlier this year 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.
The NewGen Health workers’ campaign for a strong contract is a critical effort to address the urgent needs of essential workers as national and statewide nursing home staffing numbers continue to decline. Winning real improvements in this union contract will ensure that these jobs are quality employment opportunities that can effectively retain staff; too many long-term care facilities in California are dangerously understaffed.
By refusing to take the necessary steps to improve workplace conditions for its staff, NewGen Health is ultimately risking the health and safety of its vulnerable residents.
“I’ve seen a lot of good, hard-working employees leave. We’re too understaffed. It’s not safe for workers or residents,” said Eliseo Gonzalez, who’s worked in housekeeping at the facility since the pandemic began. “I saw one nurse assistant try to care for 40 residents by herself one night—impossible! And I’ve seen brave, exhausted workers fired for small mistakes, after all their sacrifices during COVID. I’m sad and frustrated and I feel like management just doesn’t care.”
Over the last two years, SEIU Local 2015 members across California have put their fight to improve the long-term care industry into high gear. Nursing home workers employed by NewGen Health and other facilities have pushed California leaders to take action to demand respect, protection, and livable wages.
Throughout 2022, SEIU Local 2015 members have also held multiple statewide days of action, demonstrating at nursing homes across California to highlight the ongoing staffing crisis, demand support for improved conditions, and put pressure on those with the power to make the necessary changes needed to fix this broken industry.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.