At the request of legislative leaders the state’s largest union of health care workers reconsidered its earlier decision to strike at eight nursing homes.
The three-day walkout was scheduled to begin Wednesday, but union officials reconsidered after receiving a letter from Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and Senate President Donald Williams.
“We considered their request and decided to honor it,” Carmen Boudier, President of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 said Tuesday. “We wrote to the nursing home operators, Genesis HealthCare and Spectrum Healthcare, telling them that we were withdrawing the notices and that our members would report to work as usual on Wednesday.”
The request from Donovan and Williams came just a few hours after an informational hearing Monday on the current nursing home funding crisis which is threatening the future of the nursing home industry.
“We believe that this morning’s discussions can help move us away from conflict and toward resolution,” Donovan and Williams letter reads.
One of the largest components of the state’s $18.4 billion budget involves the nearly $1.4 billion in Medicaid funds that will be paid to most of the 240 nursing homes across the state. More than 3,300 workers at 30 of those homes are SEIU District 1199 members.
Matthew Barrett, executive vice president of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, has said “There’s clear evidence that the lack of funding is causing trauma and destruction to the nursing home industry.”
At least five homes are in bankruptcy,10 are in state receivership, one is for sale, and dozens more are receiving hardship rate relief, Richard Blinn, executive vice president of Genesis HealthCare, said. In addition 24 nursing homes have closed over the last 10 years.
“The Union needs to begin acting like a responsible shareholder if it wants to have a positive effect on our industry going forward,” Blinn said Tuesday. “Foolish, ill advised strike notices portray a lack of care for the residents and families that our employees and staff serve.”
“As the state budget negotiations continue, we will continue to fight for the resources that are needed for the care of our frail elderly in nursing homes,” Boudier said.