Nursing home workers push back against MA governor's budget cuts

Massachusetts nursing home workers are fighting back against last-minute budget cuts that would slash an anticipated $35.5 million funding boost to the state's healthcare workforce.

That amount was cut in half earlier this month by Gov. Charlie Baker (R), whose administration is “grappling with a significant tax revenue shortfall,” the Boston Globe reported.

In a letter sent last week, Tyrék Lee, leader of the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, pushed lawmakers to override Baker's cuts and and restore the full $35.5 million approved by the state legislature.

“Workers deserve quality jobs and quality wages, and this critical funding is essential to ensuring quality long-term care for Massachusetts seniors, people with disabilities, and their families,” Lee said. “Many of these workers are struggling to survive on little more than minimum wage and this funding provides a much-needed boost.”

Despite the budget cuts, increases in wages for the industry's workers could still be attained through nursing home “user fees,” Lee said in his letter.

SEIU worked with the Massachusetts Senior Care Association to secure the additional funding to increase wages and benefits for the state's healthcare workers. The approved $35.5 million fell significantly short of the $90 million requested by the MSCA, but the group's leaders called the funding “an important step in the right direction.”