With a potential strike of 3,400 workers at 33 nursing homes pending this Friday, the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) of the Yale Law School and SEIU District 1199NE released a major new report detailing the experiences of nursing home workers throughout the pandemic.
The report, titled “‘We Were Abandoned’: How Connecticut Failed Nursing Home Workers and Residents During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” provides an in-depth examination of the reasons why thousands of workers are prepared to strike. Based on a comprehensive study of Department of Public Health documents and worker interviews, the report describes unsafe conditions, understaffed facilities, inadequate compensation, and a lack of state oversight.
“We are struggling. We are working so understaffed. We are so burnt out. We are so tired. And we just want the best for the residents,” said Tanya Beckford, a certified nursing assistant and 1199NE member.
“We have a moral obligation to increase safety, staffing, and wages and benefits for nursing home workers,” Speaker of the House Matt Ritter said. “Their heroic efforts during the pandemic saved lives – these are workers who ran directly into the crisis with little support. I am proud to stand with them and demand the state do better.”
The report also highlights how working conditions in nursing homes relate to racial equity.
“This is a workforce that is overwhelmingly black and brown women. They have been stretched far beyond their breaking point,” said Rob Baril, president of 1199NE. “They want to be treated with the respect and dignity that all human beings deserve. That is why they are asking for livable wages and benefits and a Long Term Care Workers Bill of Rights.”
Researched and drafted by Yale Law School students in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic on behalf of 1199NE, the report’s findings are based on in-depth interviews with nursing home workers and a systemic analysis of Department of Public Health (DPH) nursing home oversight documents.
“We reviewed hundreds of inspection reports, statements of deficiencies, and citations from nursing home inspections,” said Eliane Holmlund, a student at Yale Law School. “These data corroborate the accounts of nursing home workers who have been working in unsafe conditions for low wages throughout the pandemic. The state needs to do right by these workers who have sacrificed so much.”
Watch the Press Conference here: