Across Rhode Island, healthcare members of SEIU Healthcare 1199 New England (SEIU 1199 NE) have worked diligently for months to help worker-friendly candidates running for the Rhode Island Legislature achieve victory on Tuesday and final election results show that their hard work paid off.
Since the primary, SEIU 1199 helped lift up candidates that supported safe staffing and fair wages for healthcare workers, and held accountable those who did not, leading the campaign to oust House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston) who refused to allow a vote on safe staffing legislation. RICHA, the for profit nursing home owners trade association, spent over $70,000 to try to re-elect Mattiello including over $38,000 in direct campaign contributions.
Adanjesus Marin, 1199 NE Lead Organizer, said, “While nearly 900 Rhode Island nursing home residents died of COVID-19, Nick Mattiello tried to kill legislation that would give nursing homes workers the staffing, compensation and support they need. He sold out Rhode Island seniors, pocketing tens of thousands from nursing home profiteers. They tried to reward him for prioritizing their profits over our seniors’ well being; now we need real leadership in the State House that will put the needs of seniors and caregivers above Big Business’ bottom line.”
“COVID-19 is again on the rise but our nursing home heroes are still understaffed, underpaid, and unprepared to keep themselves, their residents and their families safe,” said Patrick Quinn, Executive Vice President of SEIU 1199 NE. “That’s why our union of health care heroes worked hard to help elect candidates who will prioritize the health and safety of essential workers in the midst of this unprecedented crisis, and hold accountable those who have failed to do so.”
Additionally, SEIU 1199 NE helped State Representative Brandon Potter (Democrat, District 16, Cranston) and State Representative Leonela Felix (Democrat, District 61, Pawtucket) achieve victory for their clear support of issues that matter most to healthcare workers.
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Dawn Auclair, a CNA at Hopkins Manor said, “As a certified nursing assistant I know that the challenges facing healthcare workers couldn’t be more serious, especially during the pandemic. That’s why I decided to take leave from my job to help my union elect candidates that would stand up for us. Together, we knocked on almost 30,000 doors, made more than 183,000 phone calls to targeted voters, and sent almost 80,000 texts to Rhode Island voters in the weeks leading up to Election Day.”
Rhode Island currently ranks 41st in the country in terms of the average amount of care nursing home residents receive. A poll released by Fleming & Associates in April found that 82 percent of Rhode Islanders supported a staffing standard of 4.1 hours of care per day per resident. Rhode Island currently has no minimum staffing standard in its nursing homes.