Amid continued ownership churn, nursing home workers demand a fair union contract that upholds care and job standards
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 30, 2018 – 3:30 PM
West Reading – On Friday, March 30, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members Spruce Manor Nursing & Rehab held an informational picket calling for a swift contract settlement that provides employees with family-sustaining wages, affordable healthcare, and access to critical training and education opportunities.
In February, Saber Healthcare Group purchased Spruce Manor from Oak Health LLC and refused to recognize the workers’ union contract, instead implementing 40 immediate terms and conditions including refusal to participate in the union’s healthcare plan, wages freezes and elimination of seniority, vacation and holidays.
“As a single mom, I need affordable health insurance, which it was under our old employer. But when Saber came in, they made our healthcare so pricey, I had to immediately put my kids on CHIP – I’ve never been on public assistance in my life,” said Lacey Bellows, a Certified Nursing Assistant, “Saber needs to provide affordable healthcare so we can take care of our residents without worrying how we are going to pay our bills.”
In addition, Saber is also refusing to continue participating in the union’s Training and Education Fund that provides workers with low-cost skills enhancement and tuition reimbursement to advance their careers.
“I am taking online courses through the Fund to become a registered nurse but since Saber took over, my education is on hold,” said Kim Jackson, a Licensed Practical Nurse. “I can’t understand why Saber would want to eliminate a program that provides valuable training and education opportunities to its employers at low cost and has made a huge difference in residents’ lives.”
Spruce Manor, like many other nursing homes across Pennsylvania, has experienced a rapid succession of owners, including Extendicare, Oak Health and now Saber. Studies have shown that changes in nursing home ownership can lead to problems with quality of care. Just as continuity of caregivers is critical for high quality care, so is continuity of ownership.
Saber, headquartered in Ohio, currently owns 111 long-term care facilities, including 19 nursing homes and personal care facilities in eastern PA, and are considering purchasing additional homes. In Fiscal Year 2016, Saber’s 13 skilled nursing facilities in PA generated over $107 million in revenue and $1.8 million in profit. The 13 homes also sent over $5 million to companies owned by Saber. Eighty-nine percent of this revenue came from publicly funded Medicaid and Medicare.
Workers at Mountain City, another Saber-owned nursing facility, also held their own informational picket in Hazelton today, voicing similar frustration with the impact of Saber’s terms and conditions for employment. The 139 members of SEIU Healthcare PA at Spruce Manor are hopeful Saber will hear their message and get back to the bargaining table. At this time, no additional negotiating dates are set.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, uniting nearly 45,000 nurses, professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home and community-based services, and State facilities across the Commonwealth. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of healthcare workers and ensuring quality care and healthy communities for all Pennsylvanians.