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CT Lawmakers Urged to Adopt Long-Term Care Workers ‘Bill of Rights’

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The majority of the 4.5 million long-term care workers in the U.S. are frequently in close contact with their patients, which has put them at greater risk of COVID-19 infection. (Adobe Stock)
The majority of the 4.5 million long-term care workers in the U.S. are frequently in close contact with their patients, which has put them at greater risk of COVID-19 infection. (Adobe Stock)
 By Michayla Savitt - Producer, Contact
April 9, 2021

HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut home-care, group-home, and nursing-home workers want the state to commit to creating a better working environment for them, especially in the pandemic.

Long-term care workers and members of Service Employees International Union District 1199 Northeast rallied yesterday for their "Bill of Rights" - a petition that outlines the need for pay increases, better health benefits, and a three-month stock of personal protective equipment for future public-health emergencies.

Anthony Pina Ligon, a Connecticut home healthcare provider and member of the union, said it took several months for the state to provide PPE when the pandemic hit. He paid high prices for his own gear and sanitizing supplies, which he said was a burden.

"They pretty much didn't want to supply just gloves or face masks," said Pina Ligon. "They were telling us to wear garbage bags for garments. You know, we're fed up. We need health care, we need more support from the state, because people are dying."

SEIU says this group of workers wasn't included in Gov. Ned Lamont's latest budget proposal. And the union notes that 20 caregivers in this SEIU chapter have died from COVID-19 complications.

The workers want an hourly wage increase of $3.75. Pina Ligon added that healthcare benefits would give them a much better quality of life, and peace of mind.

"I haven't healthcare for a year, because I can't apply for HUSKY or Obamacare or anything like that, because I have three incomes coming in," said Pina Ligon. "So, I'm in a different tax bracket, according to the State of Connecticut, where I have to come out-of-pocket for stuff like that. And it's very expensive."

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, six in ten long-term care providers in the U.S. are low-income workers.

Other demands outlined in the union's petition include paid sick time, affordable child care and prompt paychecks.

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