WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — More than 30 nursing home workers in Williamsville are planning to hold a one-day strike on Wednesday.
The strike at Comprehensive Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, a 142-bed facility, is set to begin at 7 a.m. This will follow an informational picket that took place in March.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which says it is the largest healthcare union in the U.S., represents workers at the Williamsville nursing home, which a NYS Department of Health profile lists as being 74 percent occupied.
The union says Wednesday’s protest will include all licensed practical nurses, certified nurse assistants, housekeeping aides, laundry aides, dietary cooks and dietary aides.
One of those dietary aides, Sally Beiter, says she’s been working at the facility for 27 years.
“I have to think about retirement and can’t do that without a pension and better wages,” she said.
Nearly half of the facility’s workers make less than $15/hour, the union says.
Concerns over pay and staffing are among the workers’ reasons for striking. They’ve been without a contract since the end of 2022 when their three-year agreement expired.
“We don’t have enough staff to cover the shifts and the residents might suffer because their care is delayed,” licensed practical nurse Ivan Tidwell said. “We need more in-house workers to help to take care of our residents and to do that we need a fair contract.”
New York State is trying to boost nurse staffing with new legislation recently signed by Governor Kathy Hochul.
This new legislation lets nursing students finish up to one-third of their clinical training through simulations. This simulation training is overseen by the NYS Department of Education.
“Our nurses have been invaluable to our health care system, especially throughout the pandemic, but too often feel overworked doing the jobs that they love, which has only been amplified by the current nursing shortage,” Hochul said.
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky says New York is joining 31 other states in allowing simulation experience.
The NYS Department of Health says Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at Williamsville has a one-star overall rating. Between April 1, 2019 and March 31 of this year, it received 81 citations, far more than the state average of 22. 38 of these were standard health citations, while the other 43 were life safety code citations.
Following Wednesday’s strike, the union says employees will return to work Thursday at 7 a.m.
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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.