Union officials say more than 2,800 workers at over two dozen nursing homes across Connecticut are ready to hit the picket line at 6 a.m. Friday if their demand for higher wages and increased staffing is not met. The state has a contingency plan to deploy the National Guard to help monitor care.
Pedro Zayas is a spokesman for the union — SEIU District 1199 New England. He said they are also prepared to widen the strike if they fail to reach a deal.
“A second set of strike notices were sent to be effective on May 28. That one covers 13 facilities and over 1,200 workers,” Zayas said.
The nursing home workers are demanding an increase of starting pay from between $13 and $15 per hour to $20 per hour.
Rob Baril is president of SEIU District 1199 New England. He said Governor Ned Lamont’s offer of $16.50 per hour is not enough.
“You cannot recruit people to come in and staff nursing homes at $16.50. Companies are not able to recruit people in many cases between $18 and $21 an hour. So there needs to be some continued movement,” Rabil said.
Sheila Molony teaches nursing at Quinnipiac University and is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. She said this is a symptom of the larger problem facing long-term care.
“We need a better, more sustainable plan for long term care. Not just in nursing homes, but also in the community,” Molony said.
She said following the pandemic a critical source of long term care is now unpaid family members.