EAST WINDSOR--Some 3,500 nursing home workers across Connecticut say they will walk off the job April 24 if their hourly wages not increased to at least $15.
The collective-bargaining agreement for certified nurses assistants and dietary aides expired March 15. Some employees say they're simply tired of having to work 70 to 80 hours per week to try to make ends meet.
"It hurts my heart to know that I'm taking care of residents and making them comfortable and meeting their needs and I can't meet my daughter's needs," said Nicole Jefferson, a CNA for Touchpoints at Chestnut in East Windsor.
Jefferson says it pains her every time she receives a phone call from one of the utility companies telling her that her bill is late. But it's especially hurtful when her daughter asks her how come she cannot have a birthday party.
The 27 nursing homes are spread across three companies: Paradigm, Genesis and iCare.
The Connecticut Association of Healthcare Facilities, which represents 160 skilled nursing facilities, is urging workers to continue negotiating and remain on the job as they do so.
Matthew Barrett, executive vice president of the CAHCF, said in a statement, “There is an obvious and strong relationship between the Medicaid rates and the ability of nursing home operators to address the pressure of increasing wages and benefits for employees.”
Medicaid reimbursements, according to Barrett, are now $28 below what it costs a nursing home to provide care on a daily basis to its Medicaid patients.
"Anytime there is a discussion about the Medicaid reimbursement rates, cuts are always on the backs of workers, never from another part of the business," said Jennifer Schneider, spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union Local 1199.
Mike Landi, of Manchester based iCare Management, said, "Our first priority is to continue to provide quality care to our residents. We believe that we are negotiating in good faith with the union and intend to continue to do so."