Caregivers vote to strike at three nursing homes for safe staffing and better working conditions“Everyone in the country has recognized the heroic work of nursing home caretakers – it’s time for them to receive the tools they need. Thank you signs just aren’t going to cut it anymore.” After months of contract negotiations, caregivers from three different nursing home facilities have set a deadline to strike if they are unable to reach a settlement
Published on July 14, 2020
By Steve Ahlquist
“Everyone in the country has recognized the heroic work of nursing home caretakers – it’s time for them to receive the tools they need. Thank you signs just aren’t going to cut it anymore.”
After months of contract negotiations, caregivers from three different nursing home facilities have set a deadline to strike if they are unable to reach a settlement on their contract proposals to achieve safer staffing for residents, fair wages, affordable healthcare and access to training opportunities. Yesterday hundreds of caregivers from Genesis Pawtucket Nursing Center, Hopkins Manor, and Genesis Greenville voted to strike starting at 6am on July 29.
Caregivers are demanding safer staffing for residents, fair wages, affordable healthcare and access to training opportunities. Despite having over a year to respond in a meaningful way to caretakers’ proposals, nursing homeowners have failed to make any significant movement.
Hundreds of caregivers from three facilities presented proposals 13 months ago which includes a minimum staffing standard of 4.1 hours of hands-on care as per federal recommendations as well as pay and benefits to begin to lift nursing home heroes out of poverty. Despite having over a year to respond in a meaningful way to caretakers’ proposals, nursing homeowners have failed to make any significant movement. Workers at all three facilities are now working under expired contracts.
“While we continue to support safe staffing for all Rhode Island nursing home residents, our members have decided that the residents in their nursing homes can’t risk the continued status quo any longer and so they must be willing to strike for the good of the residents,” said Adanjesus Marin, Lead Organizer for SEIU 1199NE, “Everyone in the country has recognized the heroic work of nursing home caretakers – it’s time for them to receive the tools they need.
“Thank you signs just aren’t going to cut it anymore.”
A strike may be averted if the owners of the three nursing homes start working to address the demands of the workers, but so far the owners have failed to respond in any meaningful way. On Thursday, nursing home workers will hold informational pickets outside six nursing homes:
- Bannister Center (135 Dodge St. in Providence, RI) 2:30-3:30pm
- Pawtucket Center (70 Gil Ave., Pawtucket, RI) 2-4pm
- Charlesgate Nursing Home (100 Randall St., Providence) 2-4pm
- Hopkins Manor (610 Smithfield Road., North Providence) 2-4pm
- Greenville Center (735 Putnam Pike, Greenville) 2-4pm
- Linn Health and Rehab (30 Alexander Ave., East Providence) 2-4pm
“We have been working day in and day out throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Many of my coworkers have taken the risk of working with positive COVID residents and became positive themselves; we even lost one of our own co-workers of 24 years to the virus, which she contracted from those residents she loved and cared for,” said Stefania Silvestri, an RN working at Genesis Greenville center since 2005. “But instead of prioritizing resident safety more than ever now, our employer took almost a year to begin contract negotiations with its employees. This feels like a slap in the face to all caregivers including myself, who have put our own safety and the safety of our families on the line. We are now prepared to do whatever it takes for management to finally listen to us – they need to give caregivers what we deserve!”
“Over my 21 years as a CNA, the acuity of our residents has increased and our workloads have tripled but our staffing levels have stayed almost the same. It’s not fair to our residents – they built this country and deserve to have quality care at the end of their lives. But instead of working with frontline caregivers to improve care, management has refused to even provide bargaining dates,” said Dawn Auclair, a Certified Nursing Assistant from Hopkins Manor in North Providence, “Our residents simply can’t wait another day for management to take health and safety seriously, which is why we are prepared to strike.”
“I’ve been a CNA for 40 years – staffing was bad before the pandemic and even worse during it. Caregivers are no longer willing to put their own safety at risk for the same hourly wage they could make at Stop and Shop,” said Dennis Hazard, a Certified Nursing Assistant from Genesis Pawtucket Nursing Center, “Even though many of my co-coworkers are older and more at risk from COVID, we have shown up for our residents. Its time management showed up for our residents and workers, too.”
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