Workers at 14 Pennsylvania nursing homes go on strike

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Workers at 14 Pennsylvania nursing homes went on strike Friday after marathon contract talks failed to produce an agreement.

About 700 unionized workers walked off the job in a dispute over wages, benefits and staffing levels. Photos and videos on social media showed picketing outside many homes, workers carrying signs and wearing the purple t-shirts of their union, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.

“Our goal has always been – and continues to be – to secure a fair contract that invests in this entire workforce and will meaningfully resolve the staffing crisis,” said Matthew Yarnell, President of the SEIU.

He accused care home operators of “failing to create the kind of pay scales that we have been able to achieve with other providers”.

State lawmakers and the administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf recently increased Medicaid payments to nursing homes by nearly $300 million a year and sent another $130 million in federal coronavirus aid to help them hire and retain workers. But the strikers are at odds with two for-profit nursing home operators, Comprehensive Healthcare and Priority Healthcare, over how that money will be spent, according to investigative news outlets. PA projector. The union Noted that 15 full facilities are accused of wage theft while others have been fined for quality violations.

The talks began Thursday morning and ended early Friday without an agreement, with no further negotiations planned. The strike affects homes in a dozen counties across the state. Workers at four other western Pennsylvania nursing homes will join the strike Sept. 9 if they cannot agree to a new contract.

Nursing homes have long struggled with high turnover, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some facilities have been forced to close or downsize due to delayed Medicaid reimbursements, according to trade groups.

Pennsylvania has approximately 700 licensed retirement homes.

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