Workers at a Saugus nursing home announced Wednesday that they have submitted a notice to strike on June 20 and 21, over what their union describes as poor wages and ownership policies.
The health care workers union 1199SEIU represents about 70 employees at Saugus Care and Rehabilitation Center, an 80-bed nursing home. Their contract expired on Oct. 31, 2018, according to the union.
"Massachusetts' nursing home industry is facing a crisis in large part because of out-of-state owners, like Eli Mirlis from Saugus, who care very little for residents, employees and the communities they are supposed to serve," Tim Foley, executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said in a statement.
Lawmakers have also described the industry as in crisis, and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues said during budget debate last month that it was an issue that kept him up at night. A Westport Democrat, Rodrigues said five nursing homes had recently closed in his part of the state and that inadequate reimbursement rates were part of the problem.
Both the House and the Senate are seeking to increase aid to nursing homes in their budgets, and the exact approach will be decided by a six-member conference committee — led by Rodrigues and House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz — that is conducting closed-door negotiations this month on the two bills.
The House budget included $35 million towards increasing nursing home supplemental rates, and the Senate created a $15 million targeted investment fund. Each branch proposed a task force to study the industry's financial stability, but with different structures and timelines.
~ Katie Lannan/SHNS