1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East Car Caravan Protests ‘Lack Of Hazard Pay’ For Front Line Workers Employed At Two Buffalo Nursing & Rehab Facilities
WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: Pictured above, an 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East car caravan took place in Buffalo on Thursday (May 14th) as part of the Union’s Essential Nursing Home Worker Campaign, which continues the fight for its Members to receive Hazard Pay, proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) and respect for all Health Care Workers. (Photo Courtesy of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East Vice President Todd Hobler Via The Social Network Facebook)
(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) - A car caravan driven by Members of 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Workers East passed by two Buffalo Nursing Homes on Thursday (May 14th) to protest the operator’s refusal to provide Hazard Pay to its Front Line Caregivers.
The vehicles honked their horns and displayed signs on the sides of each vehicle in support of the 1199 SEIU Members who are working inside the two facilities.
Both nursing homes – the Buffalo Center for Rehab and Nursing on Delaware Avenue and the Ellicott Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing on 7th Street, house residents who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, with a number of deaths reported in recent weeks.
Nearly two dozen Workers have fallen sick and staffing has become a critical problem, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East Union Officials said.
Yet, unlike many other nursing homes in the Buffalo area, the centers’ corporate owners have “refused to offer bonuses or premium pay” to their Union-represented Workers, 1199 SEIU Representatives said.
The average wage at the two facilities is less than $15 an hour, they said.
The Centers run 49 Skilled Nursing Homes and is one of the largest operators in New York State.
Several of the Workers spoke publicly about what is going on behind closed doors:
“When things ‘started to get bad’ and our Co-Workers ‘were getting sick, we asked the owners for Hazard Pay,’” said Annette Rogers, who has worked as a Unit Clerk at Buffalo Center for 20 years. “They ‘told us to just do your job, that’s what you signed up for.’”
Dorinda McDougald, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) employed at the Ellicott Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing for the past 22 years, said: “Nursing Home Workers ‘are on the front-line everyday putting our lives at risk by caring for our residents.’ ‘Without question, we deserve’ Hazard Pay.”
John Hill, who’s worked in maintenance at the Buffalo Center for Rehab and Nursing since 1995, said: “I ‘have to suit up in my hazmat-style gear every day to fix toilets, lights and make sure telephones work so residents can talk to loved ones.’ ‘The right thing to do would be to give us some kind of recognition for the risks we are taking for our residents.’”
Sheila Lewis, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) who has worked at the Buffalo Center for more than two decades, said: “I work on the COVID Unit. ‘I put my life in jeopardy every day I walk on my wing and so do my Co-Workers.’ ‘We deserve’ Hazard Pay.”
1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East represents more than 50,000 Nursing Home Workers in New York State, including 5,000 here in Western New York who are employed at more than 30 facilities.