Just weeks after speaking out in front of their workplace, nursing home workers—members of SEIU 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union representing more than 400,000 nursing home and home care workers—say nothing has improved, leading them to hold an informational picket, joined by community supporters.
May 19, 2022, Chatsworth, CA – Today, skilled nursing home workers—members of SEIU Local 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union and California’s largest labor union representing more than 400,000 nursing home workers and home care providers—held an informational picket at Stoney Point Healthcare Center to call for urgently needed improvements to wages, working conditions, and safety for themselves and their residents. The nursing home workers were joined by community supporters, and other union and non-union workers from other facilities.,
In addition to using their own contract negotiations with Stoney Point to address urgent issues like dangerously low staffing levels, low wages, and high turnover, union members here also call for the recently proposed Skilled Nursing Quality Standards Board (SN QSB), introduced by State Senator Henry Stern and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago.
Throughout the pandemic, essential nursing home workers—including those at Stoney Point—have served on the front lines risking their health and safety to provide vital care to California’s most vulnerable. At the same time, many of these workers receive low wages, limited access to benefits, and are forced to endure poor working conditions, which has led to skyrocketing turnover rates in the long-term care profession. The Stoney Point Healthcare Center has experienced a similar exodus of staff, resulting in unsafe staffing levels that threaten the quality of care provided to residents at the facility.
Over the past several months, the bargaining team representing nursing home workers at Stoney Point has attempted to negotiate a strong contract that addresses the crisis in the facility. However, the corporate executives behind Stoney Point have refused to negotiate in good faith, declining to approve a modest wage increase and stronger benefits package for these essential workers.
To make matters worse, employees report that the facility has started to engage in aggressive (and expensive) union-busting tactics to silence these workers. And although this is a private facility, it is largely funded by Medicare and Medicaid taxpayer dollars. In other words, these employees’ taxes are essentially being used to fight them as they seek to fix what’s broken in their facility.
“Nursing home workers provide critical care every day to our loved ones, family members, and friends. At the same time, they are paid low wages and forced to endure poor working conditions, which has resulted in skyrocketing turnover rates at the Stoney Point facility and other nursing homes across California,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015. “In order to stem the exodus of workers leaving the long-term care industry, we need to implement changes that make jobs in this field sustainable, more attractive, and safer. I’m proud of my sisters and brothers picketing in Chatsworth today to make our voices heard and ensure our members are finally recognized as the healthcare heroes they are.”
Today’s picket comes amid a long-term care and nursing home industry in crisis. Since the start of the pandemic, the long-term care industry has lost hundreds of thousands of caregivers nationwide, including approximately 16,000 nursing home workers in California alone—which represents more than 11% of the total nursing home workforce in the state. Recent polling from SEIU Local 2015 of caregivers across California suggests that this trend is likely to continue. The survey found that half of nursing home workers are likely to leave their current position within the next year, with respondents citing low wages and staffing shortages as the primary reasons for their potential departure.
“Here at Stoney Point, we’re barely making enough to get by. $16 an hour just isn’t enough,” said Robert Oronia, a CNA at Stoney Point. “Grocery prices have gone up. Gas prices have gone up. Rent is still too high. Throw in past pandemic trauma, and it’s no wonder so many of the staff have left. And it’s just getting worse because the dangerously low staffing levels are burning people out. It’s not safe for us. It’s definitely not safe for our residents.”
To address the staffing crisis affecting California’s nursing homes, SEIU Local 2015 has advocated for a series of reforms to address the underlying challenges plaguing the industry, including through its proposed Skilled Nursing Quality Standards Board (SN QSB). The proposed Quality Standards Board would establish a number of industry-wide standards for California’s nursing homes and their essential caregivers to address the underlying challenges contributing to the skyrocketing turnover rates in the nursing home industry, including:
- Establishing an industry-wide minimum wage standard for all nursing home staff
- Implementing safe staffing level requirements at nursing homes
- Strengthening benefits for caregivers, including access to healthcare and paid sick leave
- Enforcing certain training requirements for nursing home workers
The protest at the Stoney Point Healthcare Center is the latest in a series of statewide actions taken by care workers and SEIU 2015 members to bring attention to the urgent crisis affecting California’s nursing home industry. Last month, members of SEIU 2015—also joined by nonunion workers fighting for a union—mobilized across the state in a series of actions to address dangerously low staffing levels and the “Great Resignation” that continues to plague nursing homes. And in March, similar actions took place across California, including at the State Capitol in Sacramento where a vigil was held to commemorate the lives of frontline heroes who tragically lost their lives to COVID-19 while working in California’s nursing homes.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.