Nursing home workers across the country have had enough. Three months into the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 50,000 residents and nursing home workers have died and more than 40 percent of coronavirus deaths have been tied to nursing homes or other long term care facilities.
As the death toll continues to rise, nursing home workers across the country are sounding the alarm on the ways in which corporations and the Trump administration have failed to provide the equipment, training and protection nursing home workers need to keep ourselves and our residents safe. This is unacceptable and has resulted in a needless, senseless loss of life that could have been prevented. We urgently need to change the way nursing homes do business and treat frontline workers with the respect we deserve.
Enough is enough. Union and not-yet-union nursing home workers across the country are calling out leaders’ failures and are demanding immediate action to do whatever it takes to protect workers, our families and our residents. These are our demands:
- Racial and economic justice for all workers — Black, brown, white, Asian and Pacific Islander and immigrant nursing home workers — so that regardless of the color of our skin or where we come from, we can all care for ourselves and our own families.
- Unions for all nursing home workers so that we have a voice in delivering care and can make these low-paying, dangerous jobs into good jobs. United in our union, we can negotiate better wages, benefits and protections standards for all nursing home workers.
- Frontline workers should have a voice at state tables to establish health, safety and employment standards across the industry. This means stronger state regulations to hold nursing home corporations accountable for health and safety violations, targeted PPE distribution, accountability for federal relief dollars
- A clear, specific plan to address the racial disparities in care for Black and Brown residents that COVID-19 has exposed.
- The personal protective equipment (PPE) we need to keep ourselves, residents and our communities safe, including gloves, face shields or goggles, and protective clothing and N-95 respirators where needed.
- Weekly COVID-19 testing for all nursing home workers at no cost to workers.
- Fully covered treatment of COVID-19 for all nursing home workers so that no one is forced to go to work sick and workers are no longer at risk of unknowingly spreading illness at work or at home.
- Paid sick days and double-time hazard pay so that workers fighting the virus on the front lines can care for our own families.
- The end of legal protections for nursing home corporations and employers who have failed to protect nursing home workers and residents so that every employer can be held accountable to nursing home workers, residents, our family members and taxpayers.
- Family-sustaining wages and affordable healthcare, so that we can live healthy lives without fear of missing a bill payment or ending up in the emergency room because we can’t afford to see a doctor.
- Enough staff to keep both workers and residents safe and provide the highest quality care. All residents — Black, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander or white — deserve the best care possible.
- Sufficient funding for nursing homes, with clear requirements that state and federal funding goes to resident care, not corporate profits.
If we are truly committed to ending this senseless loss of life and improving the lives of frontline nursing home workers, we must all support these common sense demands. We will keep on fighting for one another and fighting for residents, no matter our race, no matter where we’re from or where we live, whether we’re union members or fighting for our unions — we are united.
“Now is our moment to speak out together, share our stories and call for the changes we need from both employers and elected officials at every level to protect residents and protect ourselves. Together, we can change the work we do from today onward.” — Julie Moore, CNA, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania