On the heels of California, UPMC and New York, PA nursing home workers achieve historic wage increases.
On the heels of major Fight For $15 victories in California, New York and at Pennsylvania’s largest private employer (UPMC), thousands of nursing home workers at 42 facilities across Pennsylvania achieved $15 an hour in their new agreements. These workers have been bargaining union contracts since January, and this win is an historic breakthrough that will lift thousands of Pennsylvania caregivers out of poverty. Together, the wage increases achieved in these settlements will inject more than $40 million into communities across Pennsylvania to lift up working families and boost our economy.
“It’s difficult to describe how exciting it feels that we won $15 an hour in our new union contract,” said Dana Roscoe, a CNA from Bethel Park. “Nursing home work is extremely hard and extremely important. This is the first step in helping turn this job into a career for me and for so many other caregivers across the state.”
For over a year, members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania including certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, dietary, housekeeping, and other job classifications from various nursing home chains like Golden Living Centers, Genesis HealthCare, and Oak Health have been speaking out about the need to raise wages to improve quality care. Workers have been holding community actions, talking to their legislators and working to raise standards at the bargaining table.
And over the course of last week, nearly 5,000 nursing home workers settled 42 union contracts, all with a path to $15 for CNAs and between $13 and $14 for the other non-nursing departments such as housekeeping, laundry, and dietary.
“We said from the start that fair wages will go a long way in making sure our residents get the best care possible,” said Qwandisia Cooper, a CNA from Philadelphia.“We know caregivers are worth it and our residents are worth it. Having our employer acknowledge that by giving us $15 an hour is satisfying to say the least.”
Despite providing vital long-term living services for thousands of Pennsylvania seniors, too many nursing home workers struggle to take care of their families on the wages they earn. In 2015, nearly 15,000 Pennsylvania nursing home workers relied on SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid or both at an estimated annual taxpayer cost of $118 million.
Over the following weeks, nursing home workers at Global Health Care, Reliant Senior Care and Guardian Health Care nursing home chains will continue to negotiate for fair union contracts including a $15 minimum.
That’s why on April 14, nursing home workers will be hitting the streets in nine locations across PA to celebrate their recent wins and call on other employers to also raise wages to $15 an hour and create an economy that works for everyone in Pennsylvania.