If the workers assigned to care for our seniors are facing mistreatment due to greed of private operators, what kind of care do you think our senior will receive? This is why SOSN sides with the staff and supports reform efforts to help make sure the greed and exploitative practices of private operators are kept at bay.
‘Poverty-level wages’: California workers fight to reform nursing homes
Union pushing for proposal to create board to oversee industry in wake of pandemic that has decimated staffing
Wed 4 May 2022 05.00 EDT
Jesus Figueroa Cacho, a certified nursing assistant of the Sacramento, California area, has worked in the nursing home industry for about 25 years.
She consistently works 16 hour long shifts, 60 to 80 hours per week, often working through breaks and not getting paid overtime because her employer she works night shifts and overtime accrual resets at 1am every day, in the middle of her shifts. Figueroa Cacho said her facility is severely understaffed, often with just two nurses to care for about 50 patients.
“I come home exhausted, I have to drive 40 miles to come to work. This is by choice because I love my residents, I love my work, but I have two hours just to get home, and have very little time to sleep before I have to get right back to work,” said Figueroa Cacho.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, her employer had staffing help from the national guard and staffing agencies, but that contributed to many workers quitting as they were paid much more than permanent staff, who receive just above minimum wage.
“We would like to address poverty level wages. If I don’t work 16-hour shifts, I can’t pay my rent,” said Figueroa Cacho. “I have a son in college. My son was denied last semester because I didn’t have enough funds to pay for his school. This is devastating. We need to be paid for our work.”
Now the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015, which represents 400,000 nursing home and home care workers in California, the largest long-term care union in the US, is advocating for a proposal to create a statewide Quality Standards Board to oversee the state’s nursing home industry in the wake of the pandemic that has decimated staffing in the industry.
The board would include 16 seats, with 10 seats from state agencies, two workers, two seats representing advocates and families, and two representing employers. The board will have authority to set minimum standards for wages, benefits and working conditions for the nursing home industry in California.
According to April Verrett, president of SEIU Local 2015, the board, which was proposed by the union with the California state senator Henry Stern and assembly member Miguel Santiago, is being advocated for inclusion in the next California state budget, which is currently undergoing hearings in the state legislature before the next fiscal year begins on 1 July.
“Our members are wanting to make sure that we address a longstanding crisis in our state’s nursing homes as it relates to making sure the quality of care is what residents in the facilities deserve, that families can count on, and that we once and for all get to the root cause of why people leave this industry,” said Verrett.
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