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Workers at Fall River nursing home picket over demands for COVID-19 hazard pay

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Photo courtesy of Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council

Fall River, MA – Carvalho Grove nursing home workers held an informational picket in front of their nursing home Monday to call for hazard pay to compensate them for the ongoing risk of caring for COVID-19 positive residents as the workers feel the facility is understaffed and under-equipped.

The group issued a statement concerning why they organized the picket line.

“Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, frontline caregivers at Carvalho Grove have coped with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks, including one that is now ravaging the home, with 19 residents currently testing positive. Carvalho Grove has experienced around 20 resident deaths related to COVID-19. Working short-staffed in tight quarters with COVID-19 patients has led to about half of the staff testing positive, many passing it to their families. The staffing situation is so dire, the National Guard had to step in to provide care.”

“And yet the home’s parent company, Bear Mountain, is not offering hazard pay. The company offered hazard pay to one floor, but many staff in the rest of the building have gotten sick, and the caregivers say the offer is unfair and insufficient.”

Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council also picketed with the 1199 SEIU Rhode Island members.

“For almost a year now, we have been putting ourselves and our families at great risk to care for residents critically ill with COVID-19. Many of our residents have died and many of us have gotten sick. We love our residents but we are under so much stress everyday – we need our employer to give us fair hazard pay and the staffing we need in order to do our jobs as safely as possible,” said Anna Almeida, who’s worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at the facility for over 35 years.

“I caught COVID from work and gave it to my husband. But I still go in every day to take care of the 15 residents on my floor who are COVID positive. This has been so hard on all of us, physically and emotionally. All we want is to be treated fairly and to be able to take care of our residents and our families safely. Frontline caregivers have sacrificed a lot throughout this horrible pandemic – we need our employer to give us the respect and dignity we deserve by compensating us with fair hazard pay.” said Rhonda Courser, Certified Nursing Assistant.

The picket comes after United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 328 announced earlier this month that Stop & Shop workers would be receiving hazard pay.

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