Last week, the Hartford Courant published a shameful editorial siding with the rich owners of HealthBridge who locked out nursing home workers two months ago. Their column even advised locked-out workers that paying up to $7,000 more out of pocket for health care could help them manage their health “more wisely.” 1199NE President David Pickus wrote a response that was printed in yesterday’s Courant, providing some real perspective on what is at stake in the HealthBridge lockout:
Thirty years ago, nursing home work paid minimum wage, had no benefits or protections of any kind and turnover rates often exceeded 100 percent annually. Then as now, caregivers were primarily women, people of color and immigrants, who had no power to address these obstacles to self-sufficiency until they organized themselves into a union of health care workers.
Over three decades, they have slowly succeeded in raising standards to a point where they have a modicum of economic stability. Today, one for-profit chain of nursing homes based in New Jersey, HealthBridge/Care One, is demanding to turn the clock back, driving caregivers into near poverty to fatten the corporate bottom line and widening the already cavernous income inequality in our state.
[…]Allowing HealthBridge to achieve these goals will have a deep and lasting impact on the women and men who care for the elderly and infirm residents in HealthBridge facilities in Connecticut. The economic cuts on which the corporation is insisting will add up to …nearly $61,000 for the average HealthBridge worker over six years. […That] means choosing between paying the electric or the water bill, running short when you need to fill your gas tank on your way to work, not being able to set aside enough even for in-state tuition for your child’s future. It means another big step away from self-sufficiency and back toward economic instability.
[…]By exploiting the current climate of economic uncertainty and unemployment fears, HealthBridge has put at risk the quality of care for the residents of its nursing homes here, eroded desperately needed good jobs with benefits in Connecticut, and pushed caregivers inexorably away from even the smallest measure of self-sufficiency — all to inflate the corporate bottom line, with no accountability to the public that funds its business.
If HealthBridge wins, we all lose.
Click here to sign the petition in support of HealthBridge caregivers and the residents they care for.