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Nursing home workers go on strike as talks fail to reach compromise over fair labor dispute

Patriot-News - 9/2/2022

About 700 nursing home nurses, health aides and support staff walked off the jobs Friday morning as negotiation talks over unfair labor practices between union and provider representatives failed to settle a dispute.

The strike impacts 14 nursing homes across the state, two of them in the Harrisburg are.

Talks between SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and two providers - Comprehensive Healthcare and Priority Healthcare - failed to provide significant enough investments into staffing and care as talks wrapped up early Friday morning.

“Our goal has always been – and continues to be – to get a fair contract that invests in this entire workforce and will meaningfully address the staffing crisis,” said Matthew Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “But the offers on the table still fall short – Comprehensive and Priority are failing to create the kind of wage scales we’ve been able to achieve with other providers. These workers have been underpaid and disrespected for far too long, and it’s both them and the residents they care for who suffer.”

The dispute centers around how for-profit companies use millions of taxpayer dollars to bolster caregiving in nursing homes.

Union officials expect lawmakers and supporters to later today join striking workers in picket lines across the state.

At issue is how much of that aforementioned $600 million earmarked by Gov. Tom Wolf and the Legislature will go to workers, many of whom say they are working longer hours, taking duties outside their jobs, and even rationing food for residents.

Locally, the strike will impact: The Gardens at Blue Ridge (Progress Avenue, Linglestown area) and The Gardens at West Shore (Poplar Church Road, Camp Hill).

Zach Shamberg, chief executive of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, on Thursday told PennLive that providers are focused on ensuring no disruption in care for nursing home residents.

“It’s all about continuity of care and ensuring that current residents can continue to be cared for in the days and weeks leading to a potential strike,” he said. “Providers have been working around the clock to ensure they have enough staff to care for residents and that means contracting with more and more agency staff. That means bringing staff members and workers from outside the area and even from outside Pennsylvania to ensure that care can continue.”

The union has already reached an agreement with one provider - Guardian Healthcare - earlier this week.

No additional bargaining dates have been set.


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