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President of SEIU Healthcare PA’s Statement on Shootings in Dayton and El Paso

Healthcare workers across Pennsylvania mourn with friends and family in Dayton and El Paso, communities ripped open by dual mass shootings.

We know that in two unrelated attacks separated by a few hours, a young man entered a Texas Walmart with an assault rifle, killing twenty and injuring at least twenty-six, and not long after a gunman killed nine people and wounded twenty-seven outside a bar in Ohio

Since the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, our country has experienced 2,191 mass shootings. Already this year, there have been 251 mass shootings, more mass shootings than days so far in 2019. The United States is the only developed country in the world that experiences such a contagion, known as stochastic terrorism: individually unpredictable mass shooting events connected in a predictable, reiterating pattern through mass media and social media.

As healthcare workers, we share a mission to care for our communities. We look after people in need, we treat the symptoms, and we take on the underlying causes of disease.

Now, we are called to respond to a rapidly spreading illness, mass shootings that are eating away at our society.

Minutes before the shooter opened fire in the El Paso Walmart, a manifesto of anti-immigrant white power ideology appeared online. Like the murderer of eleven Jews at prayer in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last year, the El Paso gunman planned and articulated his violence as a defense of whiteness against race mixing and immigrant invasion.

President Donald Trump bears unique responsibility for raising up this kind of hate. No other President in modern times has used the bully pulpit of the Oval Office to echo white power messages.

Gun violence has a direct bearing on declining life expectancies for working class people in the United States. White, black, and brown families all suffer when they lose loved ones in shootings. Yet in rallies and social media messages, President Trump continues to blame people of color and immigrants for our problems. At a time when our communities cry out for healing, President Trump is betting on racial hatred and division to drive us apart so he and his wealthy supporters can continue to enjoy privilege and power.

Too many politicians are busy looking for ways to deny the underlying reality of mass shooting contagion. It is true that our country needs investment in mental health care. However, the common causal link between mass shooting is not mental illness. Alongside white power ideology, the fundamental problem is easy, barely regulated access to automatic weapons. The time for gun safety legislation is long overdue. Yet the majority of the US Senate, under the leadership of Senator Mitch McConnell (R – KY), refuse to bring up gun safety legislation for debate. Senator McConnell offers prayers and praise for law enforcement officers, but he won’t do anything to stem the tide of mass shootings or challenge the President’s dangerous political messages.

To overcome an epidemic, society needs a dynamic, coordinated, and comprehensive response. The contagion of white power violence and mass shootings demands the same determined action. Healthcare workers will play their part, not only by caring for those who are hurt, but by uniting across our diverse communities to change our politics. It’s time to organize and demand a government that will value all our families, white, black, and brown, and that will act decisively to make us safe.


Matthew W. Yarnell

President, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania

Mourners pause for a prayer as they gather for a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio. Multiple people in Ohio were killed in the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than 24 hours. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Mourners pause for a prayer as they gather for a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio. Multiple people in Ohio were killed in the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than 24 hours. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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Nursing Home Workers are Fighting to Improve Standards at McMurray Hills Manor

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Caregivers at McMurray Hills Manor are proposing contract improvements to ensure standards of care at their nursing home.

McMURRAY, PA – Caregivers at McMurray Hills Manor held an informational picket outside their nursing home on Monday, June 17, to call on management to respect their work, pay fair wages, and provide more training opportunities so that they can provide the best care to their residents.

MMH Web 4“I love this place, the people I work with, and the residents I care for,” said Mary Ellen Amos, LPN and union chapter president at McMurray Hills Manor. “That’s why I’m out here today – to fight for all of it!

I want to make this a better place to work so that the best people want to work here and stay here. That’s how we provide the best care for the people inside who need us.”

Workers at McMurray Hills Manor are fighting to maintain the high standards of care their residents have come to rely on as they negotiate a new contract with nursing home administrators. At issue are cuts to scheduled wage increases, a draconian attendance policy that penalizes workers for using sick days they have earned, and other issues that would lower job standards at the home. Delivering the best care to residents means having the best staff to deliver that care.

MMH Web 1Today’s picket comes while nursing home care in the state is under increased scrutiny. Earlier this week, a national advocacy group gave Pennsylvania nursing homes a failing grade, ranking the state 46th for care.

That’s why nursing homes like McMurray Hills Manor should be investing in their facilities and their workers, not making cuts and creating policies that drive down job standards.

“If the administration doesn’t start thinking about how it can respect us and invest in us then we aren’t going to be able to hire the new people we need,” continued Amos.

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Healthcare Worker-Endorsed Candidates Win Big Across PA!

We did it! We helped a slate of absolutely incredible candidates win across Pennsylvania. We turned up and knocked on doors, made phone calls, and turned out hundreds of voters across the state.

Stanley ElectionsAll of our hard work ensured that elected leaders like Amanda Green-Hawkins, Deborah Gross, Corey O’Conner, Chelsa Wagner, Michael Lamb, Jim Kenney, Helen Gym, Isaiah Thomas, Cherelle Parker, Mike Morill, and Pam Harbin will be fighting for healthcare access, supporting strong unions and fair contracts, and working towards overall better lives for people all across the Commonwealth.

I am bursting with pride because we helped make this happen! I love the feeling of coming together and really making a difference, and that’s what keeps me turning out early on Saturday mornings to talk to my neighbors and calling other union members about candidates who will fight for us. I know that I’m not doing this alone and that I’m working alongside other workers who want to make a difference. Every time I volunteer, I’m reminded of the collective struggle that my fellow union members are working towards across the state.

Electing these candidates means that we have eleven more elected officials fighting with us. I’m feeling really ramped up and ready to take on the 2019 general election, not to mention the 2020 primaries! I’m getting plugged into SEIU’s Union for All Work, and I’m talking to my friends, family, and fellow union members about how they can get involved too!

If you’re an SEIU HCPA member, you can get involved in our presidential primaries work by emailing us at! Plugging into electoral work has been really empowering for me and I really feel like I’m making my voice heard.

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Union Caregivers Demand Improvements as Nursing Home Care Crisis Worsens

Healthcare workers with SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania took their advocacy to the state capitol to outline issues and make recommendations for improvements to the Pa. House Committee on Aging and Older Adult Services

SEIU Healthcare PA President Matthew Yarnell (left) and CNA Yetta Timothy testified before the PA House Committee on Aging and Older Adult Services today on the care crisis faced by PA's nursing homes, seniors and the disabled.

SEIU Healthcare PA President Matthew Yarnell (left) and CNA Yetta Timothy testified before the PA House Committee on Aging and Older Adult Services today on the care crisis faced by PA’s nursing homes, seniors and the disabled.

HARRISBURG, PA — Nursing home caregivers testified today in front of the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, describing the worsening conditions of their industry that must change if Pennsylvania wants to properly care for its rapidly-aging population.

“When I walk into my building, here is what I experience,” Yetta Timothy, a Certified Nursing Assistant in the nursing home industry told the committee. “Aides have no real assignment and we run from floor to floor just trying to hold things together. Residents are falling, missing meals, and not being toileted and forced to urinate on the floor. ‘Crisis’ is the right word.”

The scene is the same across Pennsylvania. Nursing home residents statewide are at risk because of chronic short staffing caused by poverty wages, inconsistent management and facility sales, stress, and excessive overtime. Even those who have worked in nursing home care for decades describe a feeling of “hopelessness” and do not know how long they can continue this work.

“There is a staffing crisis that is unlike any the industry has faced in recent memory,” said Matthew Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, which represents over 10,000 nursing home workers across the state. “Providers are struggling to recruit and retain staff because, in our near full-employment economy, workers have options to work in less stressful jobs.”

And yet what the industry needs is more caregivers. Current regulations require that each nursing home resident receives just 2.7 hours of bedside care every day, which is not nearly enough to provide quality care.

In Wednesday’s testimony, Yarnell outlined recommendations aimed to improve care by ensuring the industry can recruit and retain an experienced, qualified workforce. With one of the fastest-growing senior populations in the country, it is critical Pennsylvania has a strong system in place to care for our aging women and men.

These recommendations include:

  • Staffing: Increase the minimum staffing requirement from the current 2.7 hours of care per day to 4.1 hours of care with a minimum amount of nurse aide hours. This is the staffing level recommended by the federal government as the minimum needed to provide adequate care.
  • Funding: Instead of across-the-board Medicaid rate increases, funding increases should reward and incentivize quality care, quality jobs, improved retention, and training.
  • Change of ownership: Transparency for stakeholders to weigh in on potential nursing home buyers, more effective oversight by Department of Health of potential buyers, and requiring new owners to not cut wages, benefits, or staffing standards for a period of time to ensure a smoother transition.

“As long as we allow caregivers to live in poverty, work short staffed, and see their hard-fought standards gutted by new employers, we are in turn failing our seniors and people with disabilities,” concluded Yarnell.

Despite the dire conditions, Timothy declared she would never stop advocating for her industry and the people she cares for.

“I’m staying at this job, but am working double shifts two or three times a week,” said Timothy, who also testified at a hearing on nursing home abuse ten years ago. “And I hope this is the last time I’m ever needed to testify to this committee about the staffing crisis in nursing homes.”

Watch Yetta’s powerful testimony.

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Berks Heim Caregivers Save ‘The Heim’!

Berks Heim_WebLast week, SEIU members at Berks Heim voted to ratify a new contract with Berks County that will save the beloved nursing home (known in the community as “The Heim”) from being sold off for at least the next five years.

Nurses and other caregivers at the Heim have fought for more than a year to oppose the potential sale of their home, attending countless public meetings and hearings and galvanizing public support to block the sale. With this new agreement, the residents of Berks Heim can rest easy that their home will continue to provide the excellent care and service they have come to rely on

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Workers at Somerton Place and Garden Spring Nursing Homes Ratify New Contract

Vita Ratification_032519Workers at Somerton Place and Garden Spring nursing homes have fought for a fair contract for almost a year after the new owner, Vita Healthcare, slashed wages for some workers by up to $6 an hour and drove out of pocket healthcare costs and deductibles up thousands of dollars.

Last week, the workers finally won their fight to force Vita to invest in their nursing homes! Wages have been restored (including a .45 raise for the year) and healthcare costs have been reduced and frozen for the life of the one-year contract! Workers even won double time for Christmas and Thanksgiving, holidays for employee birthdays, send home pay and, most importantly, successorship language to protect workers from these sorts of attacks in the future.

When workers stand together to protect the quality of care for their residents and the quality of jobs at their nursing homes, we all win!

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Vita Nursing Home Workers Honor MLK Day by Pushing for Their Own Economic Justice


On Monday, January 21, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day, Kisha Matthews, a CNA at Garden Spring Center nursing home in Willow Grove, joined hundreds of workers, activists, and community organizers at Bible Way Baptist Church in Philadelphia to talk about how we build power and change in Pennsylvania.

MLK2Kisha shared her story about her nursing home’s new owner, Vita Healthcare. Vita has slashed wages for some workers up to $11k a year and made healthcare benefits unaffordable with $10k deductibles for families and monthly premiums up to $900 at Garden Spring and Somerton Center in Philadelphia, driving down standards at both nursing homes.

Workers are standing up for their residents and fighting back against these cuts. Stand with them. Show your support at

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PA Home Care Workers Stand in Solidarity with UK Sisters and Brothers

Philadelphia-area home care workers show their support for home care workers in Birmingham, England.

Philadelphia-area home care workers show their support for home care workers in Birmingham, England.

Home care workers across Pennsylvania are standing up in solidarity with home care workers in Birmingham, England who are on strike after their employer, the Birmingham City Council, proposed making deep cuts to home care services.  Workers are in danger of losing up to $14,000 a year thanks to potentially lost hours.

The union workers have been on strike now for over 30 days and still city council plans to gut a much-needed service to the communities of Birmingham — a service home care workers there take pride in delivering.

In a letter expressing solidarity and support, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania President Matthew Yarnell writes of the plight of home care workers here in our own state.

“Homecare workers in Pennsylvania know what it’s like to be in a long fight for social and economic justice. Across ten years and three successive administrations of Governors, homecare workers have organized to be heard.”   — Matthew Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania

You can read the full text of the letter here.

The Birmingham workers are members of UNISON, Britain’s public sector and healthcare workers’ union. They are receiving support and solidarity from other trade unionists and the public across the globe.

You can show your support for the Birmingham home care workers as they fight to save their jobs and livelihood, and defend public services for Birmingham citizens, by sending an email to UNISON Regional Secretary Ravi Subramanian at or writing to the UNISON branch office at UNISON, 19th Floor, McLaren Building, 46 The Priory Queensway, Birmingham B4 7LR UK

For more information about the Birmingham home care workers and their fight go to


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Hospital and Long Term Care Workers Celebrate New Contracts for the New Year

As 2018 winds down, healthcare workers across PA are celebrating with new contracts that will take them and their facilities into a better future.

Easton Hospital Techs Bargaining Committee.

Easton Hospital Techs Bargaining Committee.

Easton Hospital Techs ratified a new contract as December came to a close. Despite a difficult round of bargaining, Easton techs stood together and were able to negotiate a new contract with across-the-board wage increases, equity adjustments, increased 401k contributions, an additional $10,000 a year for education, and much more!

Special kudos to Easton service workers for their tremendous show of solidarity with their tech sisters and brothers!

Back in October of 2017, LPNs at Belair Health and Rehabilitation Center formed their union with SEIU Healthcare Belair LPNs left in the black shirt is Aaren Acre and on the right in the red shirt is Karen AndersonPennsylvania to stand up for fair pay and fair treatment from management. In December of 2018, those same nurses voted unanimously to approve their very first ever contract!

Their new three-year contract includes annual 2.25% raises, employer-funded pension and 401k, increased paid time off, longevity bonuses, inclusion in the SEIU Health and Wellness Plan and the Training and Education Fund and more! These LPNs fought hard to make sure everyone in the building got something out of this contract and now Belair is offering good jobs to help attract the best candidates to care for its residents.

Back in the beginning of December, union members at Meadowcrest Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center voted unanimously to ratify a new three-year contract with Guardian Elder Care.

The contract includes across-the-board wage increases and shift differentials, a longevity bonus, wage increases for workers who complete skills enhancement classes and much more. Workers at Meadowcrest have even joined the SEIU Pension now! Thanks to some amazing work by the bargaining committee, Meadowcrest will continue to attract a quality workforce to provide the best care possible to residents there.

Congratulations, sisters and brothers from Meadowcrest, Belair, and Easton Hospital!

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“My Disaster Relief Experience.” Nurses share their thoughts after Hurricane Michael.

44184005_10155946513076045_3324734712114577408_nSEIU and the Nurse Alliance have a network in place to send nurses and other first responders to areas hit by emergencies and natural disasters. Working with International Medical Corps, nurses receive urgent deployment opportunities and training to enhance their ability to assist on the ground when disaster strikes.
In October 2018, six SEIU Healthcare PA nurses answered the call – some with only hours’ notice – to assist those in the heavily damaged areas of Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. As nurses so often do, they jumped into action first and figured out their life later.
Two of those nurses, Cathy Stoddart from Allegheny General Hospital and Jeri Torrance from Heritage Valley Beaver, shared their experiences.


Cathy Stoddart is no stranger to disaster relief. Here, she shares a journal entry from her latest deployment and some thoughts and 20181016_193434_resizedexperiences from responding to Hurricane Michael:

We arrived in the dark of night to be picked up for transport by a volunteer from International Medical Corps. At 01:20am, I laid my head on a cot sharing a space with strangers and disaster response mobile medical vehicle units in a giant, cold warehouse. A kind woman stated she is our “watchman” and that I could close my eyes knowing I am safe to sleep. I thought to myself, what a wonderful feeling it is to know that I am safe, and I felt sad for the hurricane victims who may not be safe at this moment. I thought how lucky I am, compared to the newly homeless survivors of this monster hurricane that ripped away the lives of some, and left the remnants of other lives mixed together in the rubble. I prayed, “Lord help me to do good in my work today.”

The second shelter I worked in had inhabitants from Panama City, Mexico Beach, Bristol, and Blountstown. I was a night shift nurse during my time there, but people do not sleep. They cry at night, all the worries pushed aside from daily activities of eating and paperwork and the bustle of the shelter are gone. In its place is the loneliness of not being at home with their neighbors, family, pets, and friends. Sitting at a bedside, helping people to reason out the next steps of their lives is heart-wrenchingly hard. Holding hands while you assess your patient and listen to their needs is a repetitive act. All they own is in a grocery bag now, under their bed. I am blessed that my vocation as a nurse can help others in their times of need. I have never felt closer to the art and science of nursing than when I am working in the aftermath of a disaster. I believe it is our duty to respond to disaster as part of nurse ethics and practice. It was my honor and it filled my soul to do so. I believe it is a social justice mission. I am forever grateful for the opportunity.
Cathy Stoddart, MSN, RN


IMG_9389I love to help people. I’m pretty sure that’s what I was put on this earth to do. It’s why I became a nurse. It’s also why I am an EMT, Volunteer Fire Chief, and an Instructor. So when I received an email stating volunteers were needed to go to Florida and help our after Hurricane Michael, I jumped at the chance.

I asked my manager if there was any way I could take a week off to make the trip. She was actually very accommodating and was able to rearrange the schedule to take me off for the week. She even asked if she could tell my coworkers why I was going to be off because she was proud of me! So I started on my paperwork – I was so excited! Once I got my paperwork all completed and all I had to do was wait for my deployment day and time, I started getting nervous…I had never done this before! What had I gotten myself into? What was expected of me once I got there? Who would I be working alongside? I can get along with pretty much anyone but the thought of going all alone to a place where I knew not even one person was a little scary!

I flew to Tallahassee early Saturday morning on October 13, 2018. The first person I met when I landed was another nurse who was there for the same reason. Her name was Terry and we hit it off immediately, and that really helped put me at ease.

The first day was spent picking others up at the airport, making up our cots for the night, and a dinner meeting with the whole group to discuss our plans.

The next morning, Terry, Natasha, Jenna and I made a 1 1/2 hour trip to Marianna Florida to help our in the Special Needs shelter they had put in the high school. We went to work and I concentrated on the tasks. Each client was to have vitals each shift, (12 hour shifts). We assisted them with appointments with FEMA, helped them shower, served them meals, and pretty much attended to whatever they needed. If a client was out of medication, we sent someone to a pharmacy about an hour away to get them refilled. There was also plenty of time spent sitting with the client and just listening to them tell their story, which they needed to tell.
One gentleman, who was brought in to our shelter, said he had left home without his medications. Our logistics people got his address from him and left to go get his medications for him. They returned about 2 hours later, looking totally dejected. They found the mans mailbox, but didn’t see the house . So they went to his neighbors house and she told them where it was. They looked, but the house was completely gone. They never did find anything other than his mailbox. But these people were absolutely amazing! Many of them lost everything they had and the rest lost most of what they had. But they were smiling! All their worldly possessions were sitting in garbage bags or boxes under their cot, and they were making new friends at the shelter!!!
One elderly lady noticed I had been fairly busy and she didn’t see me eat lunch (I had snuck to the break room and ate quickly) and OFFERED ME HALF OF HERS!! She lost everything she owned. She had no house. No possessions except a few clothes and small items. And she wanted to give me her food! Those wonderful people really helped to put things into perspective for me.

The second day there, our team leader was reassigned to another area and the remainder of the team voted me as the new Team Lead – this was my first time ever in this type of situation and they wanted me to lead – I just didn’t want to let them down! We worked so well together though that it wasn’t hard at all. You would have thought we had all known each other and worked together for years, but we had only known each other 2 days!!!! The teamwork was incredible!

When I got home the following Saturday, I had such mixed emotions. I felt wonderful about the week I had spent helping the Florida clients, but I almost felt lost without my team…we had all really bonded and it’s almost heartbreaking leaving them. We had all exchanged phone numbers and for the first few weeks after coming home we were in touch everyday. It had weaned off some now, but we still say hello now and then. My biggest worry about doing this work again is that I don’t see how I could possibly have a better team next time. We were perfect together. A bunch of complete strangers came together and made it happen and managed to laugh at times. I miss them. I miss them a lot.
Jeri Torrance, RN, Heritage Valley Beaver

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LVHN-Pocono gets an A!

LVHN - Poconos 2018 WEB

Kudos to Lehigh Valley Health Network Pocono members for their efforts and the countless hours committed to helping their hospital achieve and maintain an A rating from the Leapfrog Group!

The Leapfrog Group created the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade survey to be a trusted, transparent, evidence-based tool that is currently used by nearly 2,000 hospitals nationwide who participate in the survey voluntarily.

Thanks to union members’ strong collective bargaining, they achieved monetary recognition for their achievement —  members will receive bonuses in the amount of $150-$200.

Union members at LVHN – Pocono continue to remain committed to making sure their hard work and commitment to our patients and their hospital are rewarded.


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Pride@Work – PA Names Gov. Tom Wolf ‘Champion of LGBTQ Equality’

The LGBTQ labor group gathered to present PA Governor with an award for his efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ community at large

PaW Wolf Award 1_webPLYMOUTH MEETING, PA – Labor and LGBTQ community leaders gathered Wednesday night at the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 Keystone State (UFCW Local 1776 KS) offices in Plymouth Meeting, PA to honor Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf for his tireless efforts to support the LGBTQ community and present him with the Pride@Work – Pennsylvania Champion of LGBTQ Equality Award.

“This is the first time Pride at Work has ever given such an award and our selection was easy as Governor Wolf has been such an absolutely outstanding advocate for LGBTQ issues,” said P@W-PA Co-President Michele Kessler, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 1776KS. “LGBTQ Pennsylvanians and their families have never had a stronger ally in Harrisburg.”

Pride@Work – Pennsylvania is a nonprofit organization that represents LGBTQ union members and allies. An officially recognized constituency group of the AFL-CIO, the group organizes mutual support between the organized labor movement and the LGBTQ community to further social and economic justice. Pride@Work boasts more than 20 chapters across the country.

“Governor Wolf has been a champion for the rights of LGBTQ people in Harrisburg since day one,” said P@W Co-President Matthew Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “As bigoted and intolerant politicians both here in Pennsylvania and across the nation ramp up their attacks the LGBTQ community, Governor Wolf continues to be a last line of defense on our behalf. Thank you, Governor Wolf, for being a true ally.”

Gov. Wolf has repeatedly made headlines as an advocate of LGBTQ issues from his nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine as PA Physician General and Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, making her the first-ever transgender individual to reach this level of government in Pennsylvania, to the recent creation of the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, the only one in the nation, designed to coordinate and drive statewide equality efforts.

# # #

Contact: James Myers, SEIU Healthcare PA:  215-479-2213;

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 health care workers` and ensuring quality care and healthy communities and for all Pennsylvanians.

United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 1776 Keystone State is a 30,000 member strong labor union with members across Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. Representing workers in grocery, retail, packing and processing, cannabis, and more, Local 1776 KS exists to promote equality and inclusivity in the workplace while protecting and improving the rights of working people. 


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Workers at Chestnut Hill and Pottstown Hospitals Stand Up to Tower Health’s Unhealthy Proposals and Policies

Workers at Chestnut Hill Hospital

Workers at Chestnut Hill Hospital

On Wednesday, August 22, service and technical workers, maintenance and dietary staff, housekeepers, transporters, nurses and nursing assistants from Chestnut Hill Hospital (CHH) and Pottstown Hospital gathered in front of their respective facilities to deliver a message to the owner of both hospitals — Tower Health. The message?

“We demand respect!”

Workers at both CHH and Pottstown Hospital, have been in contract negotiations for months and have consistently met with unmoving Tower administrators who refuse to compromise on key issues.

One such issue is Tower’s proposed healthcare plan which would force many workers at CHH to travel over 50 miles to see a doctor in-network.

“We live in Philadelphia and my son’s doctor isn’t covered by the Tower plan,” said Venus Russell, a unit secretary at CHH. “We would have to travel to Reading to see a specialist under their plan or else I would have to pay out-of-network prices. I can’t afford that. I don’t know anyone who can.”

“And if we did go to Reading to see a doctor,” Russell continued, “we’d have to take an Uber or a Lyft and that would cost $70 one way. I looked it up. I can’t afford that either.”

Ashantay has lived in Pottstown her whole life and can’t afford Tower’s healthcare for her daughter’s epilepsy.

Ashantay has lived in Pottstown her whole life and can’t afford Tower’s healthcare for her daughter’s epilepsy.

In Pottstown, workers called Tower Health out for its poor treatment of the Pottstown community — most notably in its arranging for the hospital to gain non-profit status from the Montgomery County Board of Assessment Appeals, taking more than a million dollars away from local schools and borough services this year.

But foremost on Pottstown workers’ minds was Tower’s obvious lack of respect for the success Pottstown Hospital has enjoyed for decades before Tower Health purchased it. That success, they say, is all thanks to the people who work there.

“Pottstown Hospital is able to deliver such a high level of care because of the hard work, talent, and skill of the people who work here,” said Terry Flicker, a unit clerk in the hospital’s short procedure unit. “Tower’s proposals cut benefits and incentives making it tremendously difficult to attract and retain the best employees and to keep delivering the quality of care we’re known for.”

Also at issue for both hospitals are Tower’s proposals to cut vacation and sick time benefits, holiday pay, uniform allowances, and other incentives meant to attract and retain a high-quality workforce. These cuts, workers say, amount to Tower disinvesting in staff and short-changing the communities that their hospitals serve.

“This is our hospital,” said Angela Ray, who has worked in the dietary department at CHH for more than 11 years. “It belongs to the people who work here and to the community. We are what makes Chestnut Hill Hospital great.”

Chestnut Hill Hospital CNA Gary Canada speaks to local news about workers' efforts to negotiate a fair contract.

Chestnut Hill Hospital CNA Gary Canada speaks to local news about workers’ efforts to negotiate a fair contract.

Workers from both hospitals said they are willing to do whatever it takes to bargain a fair contract — one that respects workers, acknowledges their contribution to the hospitals’ success and invests in their communities.

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Congratulations Oakmont Center Members!

Oakmont Center Bargaining Committee

Oakmont Center Bargaining Committee

This week, members at Oakmont Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation ratified a new three-year contract with annual raises, payouts on unused sick and vacation time, shift bonuses and more. Workers at Oakmont worked hard to create a strong contract that would ensure their nursing home can attract and retain a high-quality workforce and continue to deliver the best possible care to their residents!
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Lafayette Manor Caregivers Do Whatever It Takes to Improve Care

IMG-1385Lafayette Manor Caregivers Hold 3-day Strike to Improve Resident Care

Frustrated by a revolving door of employees, and the impact it has on resident care, caregivers and service workers at Lafayette Manor in Uniontown held a 3-day strike beginning August 11th. In recent negotiations, management has only offered a ten cent raise, which union members say isn’t enough to stop staff from going to work for other nursing homes or hospitals.

“We have to stop losing good staff. The only way we can provide the best care for our residents, is if we have dedicated staff that are committed to our home,” said Kendra Brady, a Licensed Practical Nurse at Lafayette Manor.

One of Lafayette Manor employees’ chief concerns is staffing levels, with unfilled shifts a common occurrence on weekends. IMG-1413Despite this concern, management has not responded to union proposals designed to help boost staffing.

Beyond addressing staffing, union members have been urging management to involve front-line workers in discussions about the home’s future. Management proposed meeting in November, but workers are eager to jointly develop a plan to get back in the black, and think another three months is too long to wait.

“The staff have a lot to offer, but we need management to respect us, and be willing to hear our input,” said Brady. “Our residents deserve the best care now and we can’t wait another 3 months to address these issues.”

Unfortunately, the financial and staffing challenges at Lafayette Manor are all too common among Pennsylvania nursing homes with high numbers of residents on Medicaid.

“Every day, nursing home workers fight to maintain job and resident care standards after nearly a decade of flat Medicaid funding. Pennsylvania’s long term care system is in need of real, structural reform, starting with more transparency to ensure public dollars are invested at the bedside where they belong. Governor Wolf’s recent 1% funding boost is an important step in the right direction; now we need lawmakers to work together to ensure every nursing home job offers a living wage and every nursing home resident receives the quality care they deserve,” said Matthew Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.

The striking workers include the nursing home’s Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), laundry, housekeeping, dietary, and maintenance workers.



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Oakmont Healthcare Workers Get Big Backpay

Oakmont bargaining committeeHealthcare workers at Oakmont Center for Nursing and Rehab noticed their paychecks were really confusing. Thankfully, one of the employees turned to their union to help get some answers. 

“If it wasn’t for my union, I wouldn’t have even known to call Wage and Hour and fight for the things I fought for,” the worker said.

Wage and Hour did an audit and found the company at fault for not having employees punch in and out for lunches, which affected pay. The company must now pay for those wages going back two years. Some employees will get a check for nearly $2,000!

Congratulations to these workers, who used the resource of their union and proved if you stand up for something and don’t back down, you can win!

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First Hospital Nurses Score Contract Wins With Hospital’s Owner

Nurses at First Hospital Wyoming Valley in Kingston survived months of contentious contract negotiations with Community Health Systems (CHS), the owner of their hospital, and emerged with a victory — a new 20-month union contract!

First Hospital Wyoming Valley Bargaining Committee

First Hospital Wyoming Valley Nurses

Approximately 70 registered nurses had been working without a contract since November 30, 2017. For months, the nurses worked to bring public attention to their dispute, even going on strike in April.

“After several months of negotiations and a one-day strike, my coworkers and I are very pleased to have reached a fair contract with management,” said Katie Laskowski, an RN at First Hospital. “In order to provide the quality care our patients deserve, we need to reduce turnover and increase our ability to recruit skilled nurses. We think this contract is a step in the right direction, and one that will positively impact patient care.”

The new contract includes:

  • A 3% wage increase at ratification and an additional 3% in December;
  • A cap on health insurance increases;
  • A new protocol for staffing floaters;
  • Transparency language on orientation for nurses when hired or transferred between units.

Their contract victory is an example of what union members can accomplish for both healthcare workers and patients when they stand together to demand management work with caregivers, not against them!


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PA Workers Respond to SCOTUS Decision: ‘No Court Case Will Stand in our Way!’

Despite ruling in The Janus v. AFSCME case, union members across the nation will redouble efforts to unite more working people in unions, hold politicians accountable for creating good, union jobs.

Heather Frye, RN, UPMC McKeesportThe U.S. Supreme Court today delivered a long-expected decision in the Janus v. AFSCME, a case backed by anti-worker extremists. In response, SEIU members and leaders across PA are voicing their resolve to continue sticking together, uniting more working people in unions and holding politicians accountable for creating more good, union jobs.

“We should always be allowed to fight for changes that improve our nursing homes and resident care without fear of punishment,”  said Stefanie Henry, unit clerk and nursing aide at Westmoreland Manor and member of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “Working people need more opportunities to join unions, not fewer, and we will not let a court case stand in our way of keeping the middle class secure.”

The Janus v. AFXCME case is the latest in a decade’s long attack by wealthy special interests determined to roll back hard-fought gains by working people through their unions and hurt unions financially. The National Right to Work Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center developed and bankrolled this case, using a single Illinois state worker to front their attacks on union rights for millions. These groups are part of a network of right-wing think tanks and litigation firms funded by billionaires and corporate CEOs who use their massive fortunes to rig the economy by attacking the rights of working people. These groups spent more than $80 million to push the case and are preparing to spend more to create a cheap and pliable workforce in the United States.

“The Court made their decision and so have the members of my union,” said Charnel Brownlee, a school bus driver for the Philadelphia School District and member of 32BJ SEIU. “We are determined to stand strong. We know how the union has benefited us and our families. We’ve been able to support our communities because of our good union jobs. This decision will not deter us.”

The Janus decision sets the stage for nationwide anti-worker policies that have been proven to lower job standards and hurt communities. In states like Wisconsin that already have similar anti-worker legislation on the books:

“Today the Supreme Court came down on the wrong side of history, but we are rising up,” said Karen Sodl, Allentown School District Food Service and President of Local 391A of the Pennsylvania Joint Board of Workers United, SEIU. “No court case, no billionaire, and no propaganda campaign can stop us from coming together in unions to raise wages, improve jobs, and make our communities stronger.”

“Despite today’s decision, our union stands unbroken and unbowed, said Tiffany White,  Philadelphia caseworker and member of SEIU Local 668. “Our members see this decision and the court case behind it for what it is: the latest in a long line of attacks against working people. We know that as long as we stand together, no court case or ruling is going to take away our union.”

“Unions have been under attack for years,” said Gabe Morgan, Vice President, 32BJ SEIU & President of the Pennsylvania SEIU State Council. “Wealthy special interest groups can use their money to try to keep working people back but that only makes us fight harder. Nothing has ever been given to us; we’ve always had to fight. Today’s decision only strengthens our resolve and galvanizes us to hit the streets in mass for the 2018 and 2020 elections to elect candidates that support working people.”

“Our union was formed by workers who chose to stand together to create much-needed change,” said Steve Catanese, President of SEIU Local 668. “The corporate special interests behind the Janus v. AFSCME case expect that this decision will break us. But we’re still here, standing together. We’re not going anywhere.”

“Despite this decision, we still believe America can have a future where people no longer work two or three jobs and still live in poverty, said David Melman, Manager of the Pennsylvania Joint Board. “We’re going to keep standing together to let our elected leaders know that America needs good union jobs.”

“This decision is yet another example of how billionaires rig the system against working people, but SEIU members won’t let the extremists behind this case divide us,” said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU International President. “We will stay united, help working men and women who are fighting to form unions and call on our elected leaders to do everything in their power to make it easier for working people to join together in unions.”

Despite today’s Janus ruling, working people refuse to allow any court case to deny them the ability to care for their families and communities. Pennsylvania SEIU members will be using #Union and #WeRise on social media to show their unity in the face of the Supreme Court’s decision. Working people who are organizing to win their unions are also using the hashtag to publicly call for more good, union jobs.

Even in a hostile, anti-worker environment, unions are currently experiencing a resurgence. Millions of workers have used their power in numbers to raise wages, win affordable healthcare and have a voice on the job. Over the last several years, 20 million workers across the nation have won wages increase as a result of the Fight for $15.

Despite the Janus ruling, Pennsylvania union members will continue organizing in their workplaces and communities, working to strengthen their unions and elect worker-friendly candidates – evident in the recent Conor Lamb special election victory – who have pledged to stand with union workers and middle-class families.

“Despite continual opposition, nurses and healthcare workers have fought for — and won — better standards for themselves and their patients for decades,” said Matthew Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “Today’s Janus decision will not deter healthcare professionals from working to secure better wages and benefits, safer workplaces and a healthcare system that provides every American with access to quality, affordable care.”

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Nursing Home Workers Are Fighting Extreme Cuts to Wages and Benefits

Vita Healthcare, the new owner of Somerton Center in Philadelphia and Garden Spring Center in Willow Grove, slashed wages and benefits for services workers and introduced a new healthcare plan that drastically raises costs for employees.

Workers at Somerton Center in Philadelphia joined fellow nursing home workers at Garden Springs Center in Willow Grove on Friday in an informational picket to protest wage and benefit cuts by new owner Vita Healthcare.

Workers at Somerton Center in Philadelphia joined fellow nursing home workers at Garden Spring Center in Willow Grove on Friday in an informational picket to protest wage and benefit cuts by new owner Vita Healthcare.

On Friday, June 22, caregivers at Somerton Center in Philadelphia and Garden Spring Center in Willow Grove took to the streets to hold informational pickets in front of their respective facilities. The workers demanded that the new owner of the nursing homes, New Jersey-based Vita Healthcare Group, respect the roles of all workers at both facilities and returns the wages and affordable health insurance the company took from them.

Harry Daniels has worked in housekeeping at Somerton Place in Phila. for over 30yrs and the new owner cut his pay by almost $6/hr.

Harry Daniels has worked in housekeeping at Somerton Place in Phila. for over 30yrs and the new owner cut his pay by almost $6/hr.

Vita Healthcare acquired Somerton and Garden Spring earlier this month and immediately slashed wages for the lowest-paid employees — dietary aides, housekeepers, and laundry workers. Wages for housekeeping and laundry workers are now capped at $12.50 an hour, with dietary workers capped at $12.55. For some employees who had been at their jobs for decades and were making up to $18 an hour, this was a pay cut of about $11,000 a year.

“These wage cuts are insulting and hurtful,” said Anthony Lambert, a housekeeper at Somerton Center. “These wage cuts say, ‘Because you are a housekeeper you are not valuable, you are not respected, you do not deserve fair pay.’ I have worked here for 23 years and know my coworkers and I deserve the higher wages we’ve fought to maintain through our union.”

Joyce Lytes, a worker at Garden Springs Center.

Joyce Lytes, a worker at Garden Spring Center.

“I just don’t know how I will pay for anything with cuts like these,” said Ivorene Walker, a housekeeper at Garden Spring. “I am losing thousands of dollars in earnings and then expected to pay hundreds more for health insurance that I won’t even be able to use if I actually do get sick or hurt.”

Ivorene Walker, a worker at Garden Springs Center.

Ivorene Walker, a worker at Garden Spring Center.

Other changes include Vita Healthcare’s decision to place all employees on a 90-day probation, regardless of how long they have been with the nursing home, essentially making them ‘at-will’ employees. This gives these workers no recourse to challenge unfair termination. Vita Healthcare has already notified several employees that they would not be “re-hired,” offering no clear explanation or advance notice and leaving caregivers uncertain about the security of their jobs and their financial futures.

Vita Healthcare appears unconcerned about how these changes will impact the company’s ability to retain qualified workers in these two nursing homes.

Workers at Garden Springs are fired up about cuts to wages and benefits.

Workers at Garden Spring are fired up about cuts to wages and benefits.

The approximately 200 caregivers at Somerton Center and Garden Spring Center are members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. The workers are demanding Vita Healthcare honor their union contract and restore living wages and affordable healthcare costs in order to maintain family-sustaining jobs and quality resident care at these nursing homes.

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2,000 Nursing Home Workers Stand Union Strong and Force Golden Living Centers to Pay Them $1.7 Million

Any employee who shows up to a job and puts in a hard day of work should expect to go home with what they earned. But, too often that’s not the case with American companies committing billions of dollars in wage theft each year. This includes stolen tips, stiffing workers on overtime pay, not paying all wages for some of the hours worked, or refusing to pay promised wages. What’s worse is low-income workers are often at the greatest risk for this type of employment abuse.

In 2017, this was the reality for nearly 2,000 nursing home workers in Pennsylvania when their now former employer, Golden Living Centers, attempted to try to get out of paying some of the sick and vacation benefits the workers earned. But through their union, workers stood their ground and fought for what they earned. After over a year of legal proceedings, GLC has agreed to a settlement with SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania for nearly $1.7 million.

“I am proud of what we were able to accomplish because we stood together as union members all across the state,” said Brennan Mills, a CNA at Meadows at West Shore in Camp Hill. “Companies will try to take advantage of workers like us when they get into financial trouble, but because we have a voice through our union, we were able to force GLC to pay us what they owed.”

In 2016 and 2017, GLC sold its portfolio of operations in Pennsylvania while maintaining ownership over the real estate where the facilities were housed. Because GLC failed to sell some of those properties by a certain date, under union contracts, the union contended that GLC was required to pay back the sick and vacation benefits union members had continued to accrue as long as they were GLC employees. An arbitrator agreed with SEIU in December 2017, but GLC appealed that decision in federal court.

So union members fought back, by speaking to the media, signing petitions and calling the GLC headquarters over and over to demand payment.

On April 4, 2018, SEIU met with GLC for a mediation session to try to reach resolution on the nearly $1.8 million owed to its members. Golden Living Centers agreed to pay workers about 89 percent of what they were owed for both sick and vacation time. Workers will receive these payments in three installments, due on or before June 1, 2018, November 1, 2018 and February 1, 2019.

“We are pleased that these hardworking caregivers will finally be compensated by Golden Living Centers for the money they earned,” said Matthew Yarnell, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “While we wished GLC would have paid workers 100 percent of what they are owed, we believe this is the best outcome to ensure workers get paid now instead of having to wait potentially for years as the court process dragged on.”

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