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Striking Pa. nursing home workers take picket line to state Capitol

Patriot-News - 9/8/2022

Hundreds of striking nursing home workers on Thursday rallied at the state Capitol as a statewide work-stoppage over unfair labor practices entered day seven.

As of Thursday, labor negotiations had yet to reach a settlement in the statewide strike, which includes nearly 700 nursing home workers in Pennsylvania.

SEIU spokeswoman Karen Gownley called the talks with Comprehensive “productive.”

Striking workers also rallied in front of the state Department of Health.

Talks broke down Sept. 2 between SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and two providers - Comprehensive Healthcare and Priority Healthcare. Nurses, health aides and support staff have been on the picket line all week.

Workers have held the picket line through rain downpours this week, holding signs that read “Better Nursing Homes Now!” and “Support Nursing Home Caregivers!”

SEIU Healthcare has seized social media to post the personal accounts of workers: “I’ve been working here for TWENTY YEARS and I don’t make even $16 dollars. I have to have 2 jobs! It is a shame and nobody should have to do that just to survive,” one worker said.

The strike has impacted 14 nursing homes across the state, including two Harrisburg area nursing facilities, the Gardens at West Shore and The Gardens at Blue Ridge in Susquehanna Township.

Union officials say workers are seeking fairer wages and want the nursing homes to take better care of residents. Officials say many workers pay for supplies for residents with their own money.

Gownley said striking workers in the eastern part of the state would be calling on state government to take action to protect nursing home residents.

“Priority and Comprehensive are two of the biggest nursing home chains in Pennsylvania and have not yet settled contracts that put new funding toward staffing and care, even after workers at other nursing home chains settled contracts with statewide wage scales, affordable healthcare, and training and education that will recruit and retain staff,” Gownley said in the statement. “The nursing home industry is receiving $600M investment from the state budget, 70% of which is supposed to go to staffing and bedside care.”

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