The vote for a strike was 1,449 yes, just 78 no. The strike is on for May 1st.
The nursing home operators are scrambling to find replacement workers, and the State Department of Public Health has an emergency meeting on Tuesday to plan for inspections to make sure the thousands of nursing home patients are well cared for during the walkout.
Chanting they’re “fired up and can’t take no more,” dozens of members of District 1199, the health care workers union, said they are ready to go on the picket line in just 15 days. The overwhelming vote to strike on May 1st affects 20 nursing homes stretching from the Greater Hartford area as well as Waterbury, Norwich, New Haven, Orange and Norwalk.
Careene Reid, a Certified Nurse Assistant at Trinity Hill in Hartford, said, “Since 2015, I have received one raise, one raise of 27 cents.”
Most of these nursing home workers average between $13 and $15 per hour. They’ve been working without a contract for two years and the last raise was 2 percent.
Betty Stakely, who works at a facility in Waterbury, said, “We love what we do. I don’t want to strike, but if it comes to that, I will.”
Yvonne Foster, who works at a nursing home in Bloomfield, added, “The staffing situation fluctuates, it’s getting worse. We have more work load, we have less staffing.”
Most nursing home operators are having a hard time finding enough help. The majority of nursing home residents, 70 to as high as 90 percent at some facilities, are paid for by Medicaid, and so far, there is no indication that the state budget will include any additional funding for Medicaid.
That places nursing home operators and the state with no option other than to prepare for a strike.
Matt Barrett of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities said, “It’s an unreasonable expectation that nursing home operators would enter into multi-year agreements when there’s no Medicaid funding available to address the underlying issues in those agreements.”
The Governor’s budget office said that the state has increased funding in recent years and is working to make sure that money is used for increasing wages for the staff.