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Nursing Home Workers in Pennsylvania Fighting for $15 Wage

March 29, 2016

Approximately 7,000 workers in dozens of Pennsylvania nursing homes are going to fight for a $15/hour wage after their current union contracts expire at the end of March.

The nursing home workers are employed at 47 facilities across the state (pdf), from Philadelphia to Erie County, and include certified nursing assistants (CNAs), dietary staff, and housekeepers.

Mat Yarnell, the executive vice president of long-term care at SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the union representing the workers, told The Beaver County Times on March 16 that union leadership would do “everything we can to reach agreements” on the wage issue.

The union will also push for more affordable employer-sponsored health care options and improved staffing hours.

Most of the 47 facilities in question are owned by Golden Gate National Senior Care, a Texas-based nursing home chain that is currently facing a lawsuit from Pennsylvania for, among other things, allegedly increasing staffing levels in advance of state inspections.

Pennsylvania nursing home workers at two Philadelphia-area facilities signed four-year contracts that include a “pathway to $15 an hour,” according to a March 16 press release from SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.

Report Shows Need for Higher Wages

A 2015 report from the Keystone Research Center, a think tank focused on economic policy, argued that the Pennsylvania nursing home industry could afford to raise wages to $15/hour.

The report found that the median wage for Pennsylvania CNAs in 2014 was just $13.01 per hour, and other nursing home occupations earn even less.

One out of every six nursing home workers relied on public benefits to make ends meet, the report found.

— by Matthew Ozga

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