Conn. (WTNH) — Strike notices were delivered to 33 nursing homes across Connecticut Friday. The notices say, if their demands aren’t met, they will strike starting May 14 at 6 a.m.

Demands include a minimum wage increase – many workers say they deserve more after going through the COVID-19 pandemic and “risking their lives.” They also are demanding more funding from the state for the nursing homes, translating into raises for workers.

Thirty-four hundred workers are expected to go on strike including nurses, nursing assistants, dietary aids, receptionists, housekeepers, and laundry staff.

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The notices were delivered to Genesis (11), iCare (11), Autumn Lake (4), and RegalCare (7) managed facilities.

“Nursing home workers are more united than ever. Caring for others and for each other during
COVID-19 has opened people’s eyes. We know that our work is too important to keep us in
poverty. We deserve to make a living wage. We are human beings. And the people receiving care
in nursing homes should be confident that staff is well paid and that there is sufficient staff to
look out for them,” said Cambar Edwards from Hartford and CNA at Kimberly Hall North.

Union contracts expired in March for 51 nursing homes. The strike notices were delivered to 33 of those 51. Reports indicate the remaining 18 will join the strike at a later date.

The CEO of the state’s Nursing Home Industry Association is urging the nursing home operators and the union to remain at the bargaining table. He says his group is seeking more state funding to help the homes.

He added, “nursing home residents might be in harm’s way if there was a large-scale job action where thousands of nursing home workers went on strike.” And that, “Abruptly changing ongoing caregivers with replacement workers was stressful for nursing home residents and can lead to health care issues.”

Saturday, May 1 at noon, hundreds of nursing home workers gathered at the corner of Asylum Ave. and Steele Rd. in West Hartford to march to the Governor’s Mansion. There they joined the May Day rally with the Recovery for All Coalition.

Monday, iCare Health Network release a statement regarding the strike, calling on the state to add to the funding for nursing homes so they could negotiate with the workers union.

They said, in part:

These union members are dedicated caregivers who consistently provide critical health care services to Connecticut’s neediest and most vulnerable individuals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these front-line health care workers have acted heroically.

Over 90% of our residents and patients are funded entirely by the Connecticut Medicaid
program, which provides benefits to the poor and underserved. Yet the current Medicaid
funding levels are woefully inadequate to settle a contract with the union to avoid a strike.
We are hopeful that the Connecticut legislature and other officials are able to resolve this
crisis so that our valued residents will receive continuity of care from their long-time

In addition to the potentially irreparable harm that can be caused to nursing home
residents, the planned strike will cost the State of Connecticut nearly $2 million on the
first day of the strike to fund replacement workers and other strike costs at iCare Health
Network nursing homes. A long-term strike will cost the state nearly $360,000 per day
following the initial week.

They also emphasized the importance of preserving the nursing home profession in the state, in particular, in light of the recent statewide minimum wage increase to $15/h.

The spokesperson added, “This crisis will worsen dramatically unless nursing homes are able to offer competitive wages to people considering a career in health care. This can only happen if the State significantly increases Medicaid funding for nursing homes.”