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Nursing Home Workers Picket in Demand For Fair Wages, Better Staffing Levels and Health Insurance

The Pearl Workers Info Picket, photo provided.

Recently 1199SEIU members at The Pearl Nursing Center on Portland Avenue held an informational picket to call attention to their lack of a fair contract., the Nursing home workers are represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

The workers marched and chanted holding picket signs that said: “Respect Us, Protect Us, Pay Us, Staff Us and Essential Healthcare Worker.”

Nursing home workers in Rochester are joining a national labor movement of workers demanding better pay and respect on the job following several years of working short staffed through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union contract covering 80 nursing home workers expired nearly eight months ago on April 30, 2022. Leaving caregivers to work without a contract ever since as negotiations between union and management continues.

In recent months, hundreds of nursing home workers at for-profit facilities ave participated in informational pickets and strikes to win better wages and increased staffing levels, according to press release.

“We need better staffing, wages, and equipment to help our residents,” said Lisa Moton, Certified Nurse Assistant. “Our residents come first, but if we don’t have the right equipment in working order, supplies and enough staff – we can’t provide proper care to our residents,” Moton.

According to Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, The Pearl Nursing Center of Rochester, a for-profit facility was out of compliance with minimum state staffing standards 59 days in the second quarter this year.

“This is a facility with long standing short staffing issues and substandard wages for workers,” said Tracey Harrison, 1199SEIU Vice-President for Rochester/Corning Division. “The Pearl is a for-profit facility that needs to step up and pay its workers a fair livable wage. If workers are considered healthcare heroes, their employer should respect them and pay them as such. We just ask that the owner invest in hiring more permanent staff to care for residents who need care every day.”

Harrison said the union has made considerable movement at the bargaining table and wants to reach an agreement that will benefit everyone and hope to avoid any further job actions.

The Pearl Nursing Center of Rochester has been owned by Jacob Abramczyk, Naftoli Abramczyk, Gabriel Platschek, Sima Shapiro, and Scott Wheeler since October 2017 according to Medicare.gov, but day to day management is done by We Care Centers.

Other Rochester area nursing home workers at for-profit facilities are also fighting for union contracts. The contract covering 1199SEIU members at Wesley Gardens expired September 30, 2022.

Wesley Gardens is operated by Wesley Gardens Corporation, but in recent years they have contracted with We Care Centers for day-to-day management of the facility. The for-profit owners of Wesley Gardens are Robert Maddamma, Warren Welch, Robert Lewis, Larry Belle, Griswald-Kin, Ari Grinspan, Gedaliah Wielgus, Jack Shelby, and Robert Jones.

Related party transactions are becoming more common among for-profit facilities. Ari Grinspan, an owner of Wesley Gardens is also listed as CEO of We Care Centers which operates both Rochester nursing homes.

1199SEIU members at The Pearl Nursing Center in Rochester work as Certified Nurse Assistants, Licensed Practical Nurses, Cooks, Secretaries, Activities Aides, Laundry Workers, Dietary Workers, Maintenance Workers, and Housekeepers.

Union nursing home workers at Wesley Gardens in Rochester work as Certified Nursing Assistants, Licensed Practical Nurses, Activity Aides, Housekeepers, Laundry Aides, and Maintenance Workers.

1199SEIU and We Care Centers are scheduled to return to negotiations for The Pearl Nursing Center of Rochester and Wesley Gardens on Monday, January 9, 2022.