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North Huntingdon nursing home workers go on strike

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - 9/2/2022

Sep. 2—Nursing home workers at The Grove in North Huntingdon walked off the job Friday and onto the picket line, demanding better pay, benefits and conditions for the residents.

"We want better wages and more affordable health care (insurance) premiums," said Shannon McBride, president of the local Services Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania chapter.

About 45 SEIU members working at the facility along Maus Drive and others at the Comprehensive Healthcare facilities — including in Harmony and New Castle — were among about 700 nursing home workers who went on strike at 14 long-term care facilities owned by Comprehensive Healthcare Management and Priority Healthcare. The union described the walkout as an unfair labor practices strike.

The SEIU's contract at Comprehensive Healthcare, which was a nine-month extension, expired July 1. Talks for a new three-year contract have been ongoing, McBride said.

There are no more negotiations scheduled, the SEIU said.

Comprehensive Healthcare issued a statement saying the walkout is being conducted by "a small faction of employees who have chosen to abandon the seniors and families here."

But one of the strikers, Patrick Lansen of Sutersville, who has been a maintenance assistant for three years, said workers went on strike "for more staffing and better care for residents."

The company said it has strong contingency plans to ensure patient care during the walkout. McBride said they hired additional nurses through an outside agency, which pays significantly more than company employees were earning.

"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.

The contract offer failed to establish the kind of wage scales the union has won at other nursing home companies, the SEIU said.

The company said it offered bonuses above industry average and "generous multi-level benefits packages across the board."

"These workers have been underpaid and disrespected for far too long, and it's both them and the residents they care for who suffer," Yarnell said.

McBride said SEIU members want accountability for $600 million in public funds that nursing homes will receive in the state budget, of which 70% is to be spent on staffing and bedside care.

"We lobbied (in Harrisburg) to help them get that money. We won them that money for their employees," McBride said.

A strike was averted at a Lower Burrell nursing home and 17 others across the state this week after a tentative contract was reached between the company and the union representing those employees.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at or via Twitter .


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