“I’ve been a home care worker for 17 years and care for my mother. I am grateful that the proposed budget released by the state Senate includes funding for an extension of hazard pay for home care workers, but I’m alarmed that it has none to raise wages for nursing home workers.

Despite caring for our most vulnerable population, most nursing home workers haven’t seen any increased wages during the pandemic. Many are leaving their jobs because the pay is so low and the risk is so high. Without funding wage increases, our lawmakers are condemning workers to struggle and burnout and condemning residents to lower-quality care because there aren’t enough people willing to work these jobs.

I worked in a nursing home for one week, because in that week there was a COVID outbreak. Five residents were sick in the first three days, and it was still going around. I knew I had to leave because I couldn’t risk bringing that home to my mom. Most people I know working in nursing homes have gotten COVID from the job at least once — more often, several times. They are putting themselves and their families at risk every single day they go to work. Knowing that, how can we not include them?

I hope the state Legislature does the right thing and includes a rate increase to raise wages of front-line nursing home workers up to $4 an hour in the final budget. Long-term care workers deserve higher wages.”

Rhonda Parker, Bucoda

You can read the letter from SEIU 775 member Rhonda Parker in The Olympian here.