NEW BRITAIN – Autumn Lake HealthCare is among 20 nursing homes across Connecticut that will be affected by a strike by workers belonging to the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU, which has voted in favor of a strike starting on June 3.
According to a statement by SEIU 1199, nursing home employees are demanding additional funding in the state budget to cover wage raises industrywide for the next two years. Caregivers didn’t receive raises in 2016 or 2017. A 2% increase was granted in 2018, but that amounted to approximately 30 cents an hour for most workers.
The caregivers would not receive a raise in 2019 or 2020 if the current state budget proposal is approved.
On April 25, SEIU 1199 withdrew an intention to strike that would have been effective May 1, but Gov. Ned Lamont asked the union for more time.
“While progress has been made, there’s more work to be done,” Lamont said in a statement sent to the union. “I am asking for those discussions to continue and to do so through an extension of your strike deadline. It is no secret that my administration also takes seriously its responsibility to balance Connecticut’s finances, mitigate a $3.7 billion shortfall, while addressing the concerns you raise.”
More than 2,500 caregivers in 20 nursing homes are ready to strike on June 3. Five more nursing homes, with more than 600 workers, may be joining the strike once their workers finish voting.
“More than 2,500 nursing home caregivers will be forced to walk out of their jobs until proper funding is provided to raise their take-home pay,” Rob Baril, president of SEIU 1199 New England, said. “This is a last resort for workers who care dearly about the residents and patients they serve every day. 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.”
An employee of Trinity Hill Care Center in Hartford said that while she was not given a raise in 2016 or 2018, she received only a 27-cent-an-hour raise in 2018, according to a release from the union.
“We pray for immediate action from our elected officials to fund wage increases for nursing home workers,” Careene Reid, a certified nursing assistant at Trinity Hill Care Center, is quoted as saying in the release. “We demand the required funding from our state leaders. 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.”
SEIU 1199 represents 26,000 health care workers in Connecticut. Seven thousand members are nursing home workers classified as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, maintenance, receptionists, recreation and dietary staff.
Karla Santos can be reached at 860-801-5079 or firstname.lastname@example.org.