A health care union closely allied with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday it has acceded to a request by the governor to postpone a nursing home strike by 3,500 workers at 27 facilities in 20 communities.
“We have received a request from the governor’s office to postpone our impending nursing home strike. We appreciate the outreach of his office and discussed the request with our members,” said Jennifer Schneider, a spokeswoman for SEIU 1199, New England. “While our members remain committed to fighting for a fair wage, they have agreed to postpone the strike.”
The union had been set to strike on April 24, injecting another complication into the legislature’s deliberations on the state budget, which tends to play a significant role in shaping pay scales in the nursing home industry.
Nursing homes rely heavily on state funding. About 70 percent of their patients are covered by Medicaid. Their state funding has largely been flat in recent years, despite rising costs.
Mark Bergman, a spokesman for the administration, said the governor’s chief of staff, Mark Ojakian, had requested a postponement on Malloy’s behalf as soon as the strike vote was announced.
“Mark Ojakian in our office has been in touch with SEIU and the nursing home owners to encourage a temporary cooling-off period, keep everyone at the table while the legislature and the governor’s office continue to finalize the budget,” he said.
Malloy and 1199 have long been mutually supportive. On the day of his Democratic primary victory in 2010, Malloy walked a picket line with 1199 outside a Hartford nursing home.
As governor, he again walked a picket line in 2012 outside a nursing home owned by a chain cited for unfair labor practices.
Schneider said the union appreciated the governor’s involvement in the current dispute.
“They’ve never had a governor ask them to postpone a strike. They were happy for the reach out,” Schneider said.
Matthew V. Barrett, the executive vice president of the nursing home industry trade group, the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, cautiously praised the postponement.
“Nursing facility residents in the affected homes and their caregivers can rest a little easier for the time being now that the immediate threat of a labor action has been called off,” he said.
But Barrett warned that meeting union demands for increased wages and benefits would be “very challenging,” given the instability of Medicaid funding for nursing homes while the budget is crafted.
Medicaid payments today are $28 below the cost of providing care to Medicaid recipients per day, he said. “Increasing employee wages and benefits can only be reasonably expected when overdue Medicaid dollars are provided to all nursing facility operators,” Barrett said.
The 27 nursing homes facing a strike this year are owned by three chains: Paradigm Healthcare, Genesis HealthCare and iCare. Contracts at the homes expired last month.
|Kimberly Hall North||Windsor|
|Kimberly Hall South||Windsor|
|Madison House Care & Rehab Center||Madison|
|Saint Joseph’s Manor||Trumbull|
|Touchpoints at Manchester||Manchester|
|Touchpoints at Chestnut||East Windsor|
|Touchpoints at Farmington||Farmington|
|Fresh River Healthcare||East Windsor|
|Silver Springs Care Center||Meriden|
|Westside Care Center||Manchester|
|Touchpoints at Bloomfield||Bloomfield|
|Paradigm Healthcare Center of New Haven||New Haven|
|Paradigm Healthcare Center of Prospect||Prospect|
|Paradigm Healthcare Center of Torrington||Torrington|
|Paradigm Healthcare Center of Waterbury||Waterbury|
|Paradigm Healthcare Center of West Haven||West Haven|
|Paradigm Healthcare Center of South Windsor||South Windsor|