Healthcare workers at Somerton Center and Garden Spring Center nursing homes refuse to accept massive pay and healthcare cuts that have led to some workers’ wages cut by up to $11,000 a year and made family health insurance completely unaffordable.
Just before Christmas, healthcare workers at Somerton Center and Garden Spring Center nursing homes held a community vigil to demand good jobs and quality care for residents in the midst of contentious contract negotiations with new employer, Vita Healthcare Group.
- a $12.50/hour cap on wages for service workers, resulting in pay cuts up to $11,000 for some senior employees;
- new health insurance plan options that make workers choose between huge deductibles of up to $10,000 for families, or premiums of up to $900 a month; and
- discontinued participation in the union’s Training and Education Fund, which provides skills enhancement and educational opportunities for workers.
“For years, my coworkers and I have worked hard to improve resident care and increase standards for healthcare workers in our facilities,” said Shanrika Dukes, a CNA at Somerton Center. “In our most recent union contract with Genesis, we were on a path to $15 an hour for all of our workers and now those gains are being ripped out from under our feet by Vita. My coworkers and I refuse to go backward and we will fight to protect the progress we’ve made.”
Workers are pushing for the reinstatement of the previous wage scale and health care benefits in negotiations, but thus far Vita Healthcare Group has not responded to those proposals, nor have they offered their own proposals to address these issues.
“I love my job and the residents I get to care for each day, but I need to be able to support my family, too,” said LaTanya Richardson, a cook at Garden Spring Center. “Vita’s deep cuts to our pay and benefits will drive good staff to leave, and will make it harder to provide the quality of care our residents deserve.”
Also joining workers to show her support was Pennsylvania State Senator-elect Maria Collett (D, 12th District), a registered nurse who worked in a nursing home setting and even received training at Somerton Center.
“I’m honored to stand among you,” Collett told workers, “I stand with you guys today because I know how important the work that you do every day is. It’s important to our community, it’s imporrtant to the people that we care for, it’s important to the Commonwealth, and it’s important to our economy. I am just a shocked and outraged and disppointed as all of you are with the cuts that we’re seeing here.”
There are over 200 nursing assistants, dietary and housekeeping workers at Somerton Center and Garden Spring Center who continue to fight for a chance to bargain a fair contract that will continue to ensure the best care for residents and the best jobs for the community and our ecconomy.