Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Nursing Home Workers in 2 Schuylkill County Facilities Could Strike in Early September

On Monday, nursing home workers from three of the biggest chains in Pennsylvania voted to send Unfair Labor Practice strike notices, including 2 from Schuylkill County.

According to the SEIU Healthcare PA, Guardian Healthcare and two chains owned by Mordy Lahasky – Comprehensive Healthcare and Priority Healthcare – have refused to meaningfully bargain over the use of agency staff or include the regulatory staffing ratios set to go into effect this year in the contracts. 

SEIU says the companies are also offering even lower raises than last year, despite nursing homes receiving a $600M investment in funding from the state budget. The money, much of it recurring, is taxpayer dollars and comes with accountability to ensure 70% goes to staffing and bedside care.

“Our nursing home operates on agency staff almost every week, and they are paid two or three times more, and we even have to train them” said Donna Pronio, a CNA in Northeast PA. “They also don’t have the bonds and connections with residents like we do, so residents suffer. The money spent on agency could – and should – be spent on hiring full time permanent staff, and investing in those of us who have been here for years. We have been the backbone of our nursing home and struggled through COVID - many of us brought COVID home to our families and one of our coworkers even died. Yet they can’t even offer us healthcare we can afford.”

“I fought hard to get hundreds of millions of dollars into the new state budget to raise caregiver wages and improve staffing so residents can get the care they deserve. I want to see these resources get to workers and the residents they care for,” said Representative Pat Harkins of PA’s 1st Legislative District in Erie. “It is estimated that by 2030, more than 4 million Pennsylvanians – nearly 30% of our population – will be 60 or over. As they continue to age, the vast majority will require some form of long-term care. We have to be ready.”

To improve staffing and care, workers are demanding through union negotiations:
  • Substantial increases in wages for all existing employees to retain them at the bedside, and minimum wages in all job titles:
    • $16/hr for dietary, housekeeping, and other ancillary staff.
    • $20/hr for Certified Nursing Assistants.
    • $25/hr for Licensed Practical Nurses.
    • Additional increases to recognize longevity and seniority to retain experienced caregivers and honor their years of service.
  • Employer-paid health insurance.
  • Protection of the existing contract in the event of a sale (“Successorship Language”).
  • Ensure employers follow new state regulations governing staffing in nursing homes.
  • A written commitment not to interfere in any way with the rights of workers who choose to form their union to demand accountability from private equity firms and bad-actor nursing home chains.
Questions of accountability were heighted this month when federal indictments of healthcare fraud were announced against a co-owner of two Comprehensive nursing homes. Comprehensive and Priority also appear to lack a functioning phone number or email for concerned families to contact them, despite Lahasky having ownership in at least 58 nursing homes statewide, and nearly 200 across the country. 15 facilities Lahasky co-owns are subject to ongoing litigation over wage theft involving hundreds of employees. Guardian Healthcare paid $15.5 million in 2020 to settle claims that it had defrauded Medicare by providing unnecessary medical treatment to residents just to boost its revenue and profits.

“We cannot allow nursing home owners to be unaccountable, refuse to negotiate fair contracts, or profit off of our most vulnerable and the workers who care for them,” said Matthew Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “As the largest union of healthcare workers in Pennsylvania, our members will do whatever it takes to protect their residents and demand the investment into their jobs that they deserve.”

“Our residents deserve quality care,” said Karen Hipple, a nurse from Oil City. “This is their home and they need enough staff to feed them, clean them, and provide what they need to live with dignity. No one ever wants to go on strike, but we are left with no choice if these nursing home 
owners won’t invest in staffing.”

By law, nursing home administrators must receive a 10-day notice before a strike at a healthcare facility takes place. Unless an agreement is reached, strikes are set to start September 2nd at the following nursing homes:

The following facilities from Schuylkill County have been notified:
  • Priority Healthcare - The Meadows at York Terrace: 2401 W Market St Pottsville, PA 17901
  • Shenandoah Heights Healthcare: 200 Pennsylvania Ave, Shenandoah, PA 17976
Other facilities include:

Comprehensive Healthcare
  • The Grove at Irwin: 249 Maus Dr. Irwin, PA 15642
  • The Grove at New Castle: 715 Harbor St. New Castle, PA 16101
  • The Grove at Harmony: 191 Evergreen Mill Rd. Harmony, PA 16037
  • The Grove at Washington: 1198 W Wylie Ave. Washington, PA 15301
Guardian Healthcare
  • Beaver Valley Healthcare & Rehab: 257 Georgetown Rd Beaver Falls, PA 15010
  • Clarion Health & Rehab: 999 Heidrick St Clarion, PA 16214
  • Meyersdale Healthcare & Rehab: 201 Hospital Dr Meyersdale, PA 15552
  • Oil City Healthcare & Rehab: 1293 Grandview Rd Oil City, PA 16301
  • Riverside Rehab & Nursing: 500 Hospital St Taylor, PA 18517
  • Titusville Healthcare & Rehab: 81 W Dillon Dr Titusville, PA 16354
  • Uniontown Healthcare & Rehab: 129 Franklin Ave Uniontown, PA 15401
  • Guardian Elder Care at Nanticoke: 159 Old Newport St #151 Nanticoke, PA 18634
  • Richland Healthcare & Rehab: 349 Vo Tech Dr Johnstown, PA 15904
  • Belair Healthcare & Rehab: 100 Little Dr Lower Burrell, PA 15068
Priority Healthcare
  • The Meadows at Blue Ridge: 10 House Ave Camp Hill, PA 17011
  • The Meadows at West Shore: 770 Poplar Church Rd Camp, Hill, PA 17011
  • The Gardens at Easton/Praxis: 500 Washington St. Easton, PA 18042
  • Rose City Nursing & Rehab at Lancaster: 425 N Duke St #4905 Lancaster, PA 17602
  • Fairlane Gardens Nursing & Rehab at Reading: 21 Fairlane Rd Reading, PA 19606
  • The Gardens at Wyoming Valley (Summit): 50 N Pennsylvania Ave Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701
  • The Gardens at East Mountain: 101 E Mountain Blvd Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702
  • The Meadows at Stroud: 221 E Brown St. East Stroudsburg, PA 18301