Nursing Home Workers Face Uphill Fight
Nursing home workersface up-Hill fight.

MILL VALLEY-The cool crisp Marin afternoon was perfect for
skateboarding and picketing-so several young skateboarders
joined some 60 workers at the Hillhaven Convalescent Center
here for a Valentine's Day informational picket blasting
"the sweatshops of the healthcare industry."
Hillhaven is the second-largest nursing-home chain in the
country, with 40 homes in California; 25 of those are
organized by the Service Employees Intl. Union (SEIU).

Workers at Mill Valley and 12 other sites have been without
a contract since Feb. 1. SEIU is pressing for a new
agreement that will give them a voice in patient care, safer
workplaces, and a living wage.

Nursing home workers all over are feeling the crunch of
health care restructuring, according to SEIU Field Rep. Lisa
Hubbard. Hospitals used to make money by keeping patients as
long as possible. Now, under managed care, it's the
opposite, and hospitals are shoving patients out sooner to
nursing homes.

Hardest hit by the changes are certified nurses' aides, who
provide much of the direct patient care. Earning between $6
and $7 an hour, the aides are being forced to care for
sicker patients without necessary training or supplies.
"You can't have impoverished poorly trained workers and
quality care at the same time," said Hubbard. "It's
circular: patient care is affected by worker treatment which
affects patient care."

The Feb. 14 picket was one in a series scheduled for
Hillhaven Homes around the state, used-along with
newsletters, potluck dinners and other activities-to
generate community awareness and support and build
solidarity of purpose among the workers. "We will do what it
takes for as long as it takes to get what we want," said
Hubbard.

For more info: SEIU's Dignity Campaign, (510) 869-2210.
-Carl Anderson