Nursing home workers stage protest in Manhattan over stalled contract negotiations

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, November 18, 2021
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Mike Marza has more on a protest staged by nursing home workers in Midtown over stalled contract negotiations with for-profit nursing home owners.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- A rally was held in Manhattan by nursing home workers protesting stalled contract negotiations.

SEIU 1199 union workers gathered at 42nd Street and Broadway around 5 p.m. on Wednesday and marched to their headquarters at 498 Seventh Ave in Midtown.

That's where protestors held a candlelight vigil, and at times, the rally felt more like a party.

The nursing home workers are protesting over stalled contract negotiations with the for-profit owners of the nursing homes.

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The nursing home caregivers say they have been fighting since August for good wages, safe working conditions, affordable, comprehensive health benefits and retirement options.

Union leaders say they were often short-staffed, did not have proper resources and were left to watch many nursing home residents die.

"Every morning we'd go to work we would have a lot of residents die we'd have to wrap them up and take them down stairs find place to store them," nursing home worker Janet Campbell said.

Workers are also frustrated with how they have been treated after being hailed heroes during the pandemic.

"We've been working hard even through the pandemic and management does not recognize us, so we are here today showing management that we are strong, we are united and we deserve more and we're just asking for this contract because we need our benefits and health care," nursing home worker Judith Wallace said.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Leticia James and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams all made an appearance at the rally and spoke out on behalf of the workers.

"All you're asking for in return is not to be called somebody's hero but all you're saying is, 'just give me a little respect'... and 'respect' means we're going to pay you what you deserve and get a contract right now. It's that simple," Hochul said.

"Everybody can talk a good game. Put up show you the money," Williams said.

"You are the heroes of this fight. Hard working people of 1199 and you're fighting for what is right," James said.

The nursing homes are spread out across the Tri-State, from the tip of Long Island to Putnam and Orange County.

There are approximately 225 for-profit nursing homes, with 33,000 workers involved.

Workers hope the added spotlight will be the spark they need to secure a new deal.

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