Workers at 16 metro Detroit nursing homes who had planned to strike starting Monday have suspended their demonstrations after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for a resolution between workers and nursing home operators, according to a news release from the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan.
Whitmer on Sunday sent letters via email to negotiators for the union and three nursing homes — Beaconshire Nursing Center, Four Seasons Rehabilitation and Nursing and Villa Healthcare Corporation — urging the groups to resolve their labor dispute. More than a thousand workers had planned to strike Aug. 17 over staffing shortages during the pandemic, inadequate personal protective equipment and low wages.
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“Workers must receive a fair wage for the important work they do, and nursing home operators must have a sustainable path forward,” Whitmer said in the letters. “For this reason, I strongly encourage all parties to commit to good faith negotiations for at least the next 30 days to find an agreeable solution without taking further economic action such as a strike or lockout.”
Workers at the nursing homes — most from chains owned by Villa Healthcare, Ciena Healthcare and Charles Dunn — delivered strike notices on Aug. 6 calling on owners to improve staffing levels, provide adequate personal protection equipment during the pandemic and pay workers a living wage.
Requests for comment from Ciena, Villa, Beaconshire Nursing Center and Four Seasons Rehabilitation and Nursing were not immediately returned Monday evening.
“Our union of Michigan nursing home workers, no matter where they work — certified nursing assistants, housekeeping, laundry, activity aides, office staff, cooks, environmental and dietary — are risking their lives to care for the lives of others,” said Andrea Acevedo, SEIU Healthcare Michigan president, in the release.
As of Sunday, Michigan had reported 4,156 cases of coronavirus — and 21 deaths — among nursing home employees, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Among nursing home residents, there have been 8,041 cases of coronavirus and 2,082 deaths.
An Oakland County judge on Aug. 14 issued a seven-day temporary restraining order to Ciena Healthcare ordering workers to “immediately cease, desist, and refrain from striking or picketing in a manner that interferes with ingress or egress to the subject facilities.”