Over 2,500 nursing home caregivers at 20 nursing homes have set a new strike deadline – June 3 – as a show of frustration that the state legislature has not amended the proposed budget to include additional funding to support wage increases.
Represented by SEIU 1199 New England, the workers had voted in favor of a strike starting on May 1, though that was postponed after Gov. Ned Lamont’s office said it was open to continued negotiations. The National Labor Relations Act requires labor unions to give health care employers a minimum notice of 10 days before going on strike.
Workers at the 20 facilities – which include Autumn Lake Healthcare in Norwalk – did not received an increase in their salaries in 2016 and 2017. They received a 2% raise in 2018 amounting to roughly 30 cents for most workers, but would not receive raises in 2019 and 2020 if the current state budget proposal is approved.
“This is a last resort for workers who care dearly about the residents and patients they serve every day,” said Rob Baril, president of SEIU 1199 New England. “Some of our members are making as little as $10.93 per hour, or just 83 cents above the bare minimum wage. This is totally unacceptable in a wealthy state like Connecticut.”
Five more nursing homes with 600-plus workers may be joining the strike once their voting process has concluded.
“We pray for immediate action from our elected officials to fund wage increases for nursing home workers. We had no raise in 2016. No raise in 2017. A 27-cent raise for me in 2018. And no raise coming our way in 2019 and 2020,” said Careene Reid, a certified nursing assistant at Trinity Hill Care Center in Hartford.
“We demand the required funding from our state leaders,” she said. “Our caregivers, as well as our patients and residents, and their families deserve better. But now we know we’ll have to fight in Union to get the modest raises that we ask for.”