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A dozen Pa. nursing homes avoid one-day strike, while workers at several others might not clock in

  • Sarah Boden/WESA
Unionized employees at Fairlane Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation in Reading say they plan to strike for one day on Tuesday, July 27. It is one of eight Pennsylvania nursing homes where workers have given notice that they won't work in protest of low wages and staffing levels. The facilities are all operated by Priority Healthcare Group. The eastern New York-based company runs more than 40 long-term care facilities in the U.S.

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Unionized employees at Fairlane Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation in Reading say they plan to strike for one day on Tuesday, July 27. It is one of eight Pennsylvania nursing homes where workers have given notice that they won't work in protest of low wages and staffing levels. The facilities are all operated by Priority Healthcare Group. The eastern New York-based company runs more than 40 long-term care facilities in the U.S.

(Pittsburgh) — Employees at a dozen Pennsylvania nursing homes have called off a one-day strike that was planned for Tuesday. But unionized staff another eight facilities say they’ll go forward with plans to not work in protest of what they describe as unsustainable conditions.

All 20 facilities involved are undergoing contract negotiations, and are operated by one of three nursing home chains: Guardian Healthcare, Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services, and Priority Healthcare Group. The portfolio of each company includes dozens of long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania and the eastern United States.

Plans for the strike were announced earlier this month by SEIU, the union through which the nursing home employees are organized.

“Our long term care system has faced dwindling staffing, lower care standards, and cases of fraud, abuse, and neglect,” SEIU said in a July 21 press release. “At the same time, those entering skilled nursing facilities arrive with far greater physical and intellectual needs.”

SEIU says workers who will be clocking in on Tuesday have reached tentative contract agreements with management. This includes nine facilities in western Pennsylvania, located in Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland Counties. Each facility has its own contract.

Nursing homes where workers are still planning to strike are located in central or eastern Pennsylvania, and are all owned by Priority Healthcare Group. The eastern New York-based company did not respond to WESA’s email request for comment. A call to the phone number listed on Priority’s website was not answered.

The impending strikes fall on the backdrop of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s decision to update nursing home regulations. The state wants nursing homes to boost the minimum number of hours of direct personal care that every resident receives from 2.7 to 4.1. The change will require many facilities to hire more staff, which is what unionized workers have been calling on nursing home operators to do for years.

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