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Michigan nursing home workers plan to strike in Metro Detroit, Flint

(CBS DETROIT) - Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare workers say they plan to strike this month in Metro Detroit and Flint after contract negotiations.

According to a press release, more than 500 workers from seven nursing homes managed by Ciena plan to strike on March 21. The notice comes after negotiations over the last two months from 13 nursing homes "declared the possibility of a strike."

Workers have authorized a strike at the following facilities:

  • Regency of Livonia - 14900 Middlebelt Road, Livonia
  • Sheffield Manor LPN/SM - 15311 Schaefer Highway, Detroit
  • Hartford Nursing & Rehabilitation Center - 6700 Outer Drive W, Detroit
  • Regency at Whitmore Lake - 8633 Main St., Whitmore Lake
  • The Manor of Farmington Hills - 21017 Middlebelt Road, Farmington Hills
  • Regency of Westland/Camelot - 2209 N Newburgh Road, Westland
  • Willowbrook - 4436 Beecher Road, Flint

"We've negotiated for months with Ciena management in good faith, but have been extremely disappointed with what they are willing to offer. Nursing home workers risked their lives to care for our most vulnerable residents during the pandemic. We all deserve respect, protection, pay, and safe staffing," said Toyai Anderson, CNA at Hartford Hartford Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

"We have a staffing crisis in our homes because of low wages and poor working conditions. We will not continue to be disrespected with lowball offers at the bargaining table. Workers are united and ready to take action. While we hope the contract will be settled soon, we are prepared to go on strike."

In February, SEIU nursing home workers from the Pioneer-owned Heritage Manor in Detroit and Pine Creek Manor in Wayne issued a 10-day strike notice due to unfair labor practices. 

The healthcare system says SEIU ratified contracts at the two nursing homes, which represented 110 workers.

Ciena Healthcare issued the following statement:

Ciena Healthcare has received notice of impending strikes by members of SEIU Healthcare of Michigan at seven of the nursing facilities that Ciena manages in Michigan.  

Our facilities are making preparations to provide care for all residents during a strike. Admittedly, our ability to do this is greatly challenged by workforce shortages and we strongly urge the union, in the best interest of all our residents, to remain at the bargaining tables and work to resolve these contracts before a strike. 

These strike notices were unnecessary and premature. Of the 7 targeted facilities, none of the negotiations are at an impasse. Ciena has been pushing SEIU Healthcare of Michigan since the fourth quarter of 2022 to agree to add more bargaining sessions at each table to resolve open contracts. Four of the seven bargaining tables did not meet in December, January or February due to unavailability of the union negotiators. In fact, Regency at Westland held its first bargaining session the first week of March 2023 and yet has received a strike notice a week later. For three months, the union has stalled negotiations by being unavailable, and manufactured their now proclaimed urgency to move to a strike.  

Bargaining sessions for all facilities are scheduled for this week. Ciena is confident resolution can be reached in all current open contracts without the need for a strike. In 2022, five Ciena-managed nursing homes successfully negotiated separate new collective bargaining agreements with SEIU Healthcare of Michigan without a strike.  

A strike now unnecessarily places residents at risk because our nursing homes are facing unprecedented challenges that limit our ability to solve all of the union's demands and concerns in these contracts. We are facing a historic shortage of workers that we are struggling to hire and retain, while operating in an inflationary environment where overall costs outpace the reimbursement received from Medicaid and Medicare, our primary payment sources.

The Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM) that represents 358 nursing homes in Michigan, including Ciena Healthcare, estimates that nursing homes in Michigan have lost 10,000 workers since the pandemic began. Addressing the worker shortage will require the combined efforts of employers, employees, unions and state and federal governments to find ways to provide funding, programs and opportunities to attract and retain the employees needed to care for some of the most vulnerable citizens in our state.

Ciena supports the proposed 2024 budget of Governor Whitmer that allocates additional funding to nursing home staff by reimbursing employers for adding an additional $3.85 per hour to our workers' wages. This is one of several initiatives that are needed to address the workforce crises in long term care.  

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