PITTSBURGH, PA – On Thursday, dozens of nurses, members of SEIU Healthcare PA, walked off at the Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center in Western Pennsylvania’s Beaver County.
The walk-off came after 36 elderly residents and six healthcare workers at the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19. Already, two senior citizens at the facility have died of COVID-19.
Nurses at the facility say that they haven’t been given N-95 masks to wear around residents. After days of the union being rebuffed in its attempt to meet with management to discuss safety issues and hazard pay, nurses on the job walked off on Wednesday.
“Financially, I probably shouldn’t make that decision, but it’s not about finances. It’s about my health and another person’s health,” Nurse Tamera Witherspoon told CBS Pittsburgh.
The union says that it won’t go back in until they get proper protective equipment for the staff at Brighton Rehab.
“These workers and residents deserve nothing less, we would never send our troops into a war without their helmet, gun, and boots,” said SEIU Healthcare President Matthew Yarnell.
The strike comes as the Trump administration killed a provision in the new COVID-19 bailout package that would have forced OSHA to institute an emergency rule standard to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19.
The provision was killed at the bequest of the American Hospital Association. Now, many frontline healthcare workers say they lack basic protective equipment.
Increasingly, frontline workers from healthcare to warehouses to manufacturing are walking off the job across the country to protest unsafe working conditions.
With a lack of federal regulations, SEIU Healthcare PA says that its willing to take action into its own hands to force employers to protect frontline healthcare workers.
“It’s going to take all of you to make sure we are never in this position again,” SEIU Healthcare PA President Matthew Yarnell wrote on his Facebook page to his members.