Karen Backus,

Issued April 12, 2016

Nursing home workers to join “Fight for $15” to raise wages, improve quality of care

New report finds 1 in 3 nursing assistants relies on public assistance, “care gap” worsening

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Seizing the momentum from recent New York and California laws that established a $15 state minimum wage, nursing home workers will be joining actions from Florida to California to unite with other nursing home workers this Thursday, April 14, to call for a $15 an hour wage.  

As the national movement of fast-food, child care, home care and airport workers grows, nursing home workers—among the most underpaid working women and men in the country—are joining to stand up to corporate greed and to call for fair wages and quality care for seniors and people with disabilities who depend upon nursing home care.

Nearly 5,000 Pennsylvania nursing home workers won a path to a $15 hourly wage last week through their union. Thousands of nursing home workers in more than 40 cities in 16 states will be joining actions this week as part of the Fight for $15. Events include:

Florida: 2,000 nursing home workers will go on strike at 19 Consulate Healthcare facilities in Altamonte Springs, Brooksville, Cape Coral, Hollywood, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, North Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando, Palm Coast, Palm Bay, South Daytona, St. Cloud, Titusville, Venice, West Palm Beach—the largest healthcare strike in the Southeast in more than a decade.

Illinois: Nursing home workers will be holding a candlelight vigil Wednesday, April 13, on the Northside of Chicago followed by a march. Workers will be participating in a series of rallies Thursday, April 14, outside Loyola University, area McDonald’s and nursing homes.

Pennsylvania: At actions in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Allentown, Beaver, Erie, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Scranton and Washington, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members will celebrate winning a path to $15 at their respective Golden Living, Genesis and Oak Health nursing homes and call for a fair wage for all working people. 

Ohio: Nursing home workers will be joining together to make a historic announcement in Cleveland to “make poverty history.”

California: Hundreds of nursing home workers will join actions in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Riverside and Oakland.

More events will be held in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin

Kim White, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a nursing home near Orlando, will be one of the Consulate workers going on strike Thursday. “We help the people we care for with their most basic needs, like bathing and dressing, preparing the food they eat, and keeping their living environment clean, but can’t afford the basics for our own families,” said White. “I have to work so much overtime to provide for my son that there’s not enough time to spend actually parenting.”

According to the Paraprofessional Health Institute (PHI) report, “Raise the Floor: Quality Nursing Home Care Depends on Quality Jobs” released today, nursing assistants and workers providing laundry, food and housekeeping services are underpaid, often viewed “as a cost to be managed rather than an asset to invest.” Keeping the wage floor low leads to 50 percent of nursing home workers leaving their positions each year and adds to the dramatically growing gap in available trained long term care providers.

“Over the years, the demands of my job and the number of nursing home residents I was taking care of kept increasing, but the pay wasn’t keeping up,” said Maribel Rodriguez, who has worked as a CNA for 29 years. “Nursing home chains, not unlike McDonald’s and other corporations, keep wages low to make their profits higher instead of investing in those of us who actually provide direct care. That’s why we’re standing up for better quality jobs for all workers—and we’re winning.” 

To recruit and retain CNAs to provide quality care to more acutely ill nursing home residents, PHI recommends that workers receive higher pay, full-time hours with consistent scheduling, strengthened training standards, and opportunities for career advancement.

To read a summary of “Raise the Floor: Quality Nursing Home Care Depends on Quality Jobs,” or to download the full report go to: