Nursing home workers threaten strike amid contract negotiations in Detroit

Nursing home workers from 13 different facilities demanding change

Turnover in Detroit nursing homes in 2022 was said to be over 50%.

Now, the workers are saying they’re being put in a position to make an uncompromising demand for nursing home owners with the chance of facing a strike.

“The low staffing due to COVID, it’s hard,” said nurse Cheryl Mitchell. “It can’t be helped. It’s hard when you’re doing the work of two or three people when you have 26 residents to take care of on your unit.”

Mitchell and Tawanna Meriweather are two of many nurses who have had enough of what comes with being employed by a nursing home in 2023.

They say that includes working with almost the bare minimum, extremely short staffing, and insufficient benefits.

“We put our residents first because that’s who we’re there for,” said Meriweather. “But it’s also draining us.”

Thanks to help from the Service Employees International Union, nursing home workers from 13 different facilities are demanding a change. If not, they’re saying they’re ready to take action.

“After today, we’re putting them on notice that we’re willing to go on strike if that’s what it’ll take to get better working conditions, better pay,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been out of a contract for almost two years now.”

But Founder and CEO of senior placement company, NextSteps4Seniors, Wendy Jones, says if that happens, the people that will most be affected are the ones most vulnerable.

“Who suffers is our patients, our seniors, that’s who’s going to suffer in the nursing homes,” said Jones. “I mean, the care is going to decrease that already has. And it’s heartbreaking.”

Jones hopes there is another resolution to solve all the problems, especially with that already existing staffing issue.

“Do you really want somebody walking off the job,” Jones said. “What’s going to happen to your Mom? What’s going to happen to your dad? It’s heart-wrenching.”

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.