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Nursing home workers protest at long-term care facilities across California

Looking for better pay, benefits
Nursing Home Workers Protest, Delano
Nursing Home Workers Protest, Delano
Nursing Home Workers Protest, Delano
Posted at 8:44 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 02:15:53-04

DELANO, Calif. (KERO) — Monday nursing home workers and members of the Service Employees International Union protested at long-term care facilities across the state to bring attention to the challenges the nursing home industry is facing.

Those protesting say they care about the residents and the workforce but poor working conditions, low wages, and unsafe staffing levels have forced them to demand change.

Nursing home facilities felt the pandemic firsthand.

“We work hard. It’s been a tough last two years especially,” said licensed vocational nurse Irene Balderas. “COVID is hard. It was hard for us, and then we have the inflation that’s going on the cost of living is changing.”

Since April of last year, nursing home workers and SEIU 2015 members have been negotiating with the North Kern-South Tulare Hospital District board to discuss higher wages and better benefits for employees but so far there have not been any changes made to pay, only some changes to benefits, and increased premiums for health insurance.

On Monday at the Delano District Skilled Nursing facility employees protested in front of the facility with those demands.

“A lot of folks are getting paid a little bit above 15 and our CNAs are actually getting paid about $16 an hour,” said Ua Lugo, coordinator for SEIU 2015.

Now members are asking for the city of Delano’s help.

“The city council can help because part of it is a public facility that gets public funding," explained Lugo. "We are hoping that the city council can speak to the board that oversees the Delano Hospital and letting them know how important it is for them to provide benefits and better wages for their workers.”

Delano’s Mayor Bryan Osorio was in attendance and showed his support for Kern County’s health care workers.

“For me, what I would like to see is an environment where both the nursing facility board can come back and bargain in good faith, the workers are satisfied with the bargain itself, and that the residents inside are being taken care of at the end of the day.”

“This is a 4-star facility. These workers take very good care of their patients so they need to make sure that their workers get paid like the healthcare heroes they are,” added Lugo.

23ABC reached out to the facility and the North Kern-South Tulare Hospital District board but did not get a response. 23ABC also reached out to Kern County Public Health who directed us to the state public health department.

The next negotiation is on April 5th where members and employees hope the board will bring a better offer to increase pay. They also plan to stand in front of the Delano City Council with hopes they can help with public funding.