SAINT PAUL – Following the final announcement from Governor Walz & Lt. Governor Flanagan of the representatives for the newly created Nursing Home Workforce Standards Board, the three appointees representing workers spoke out in excitement for the Board to begin work setting standards that will help to improve the industry for residents and workers.
Jamie Gulley, the President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa, shared his excitement over being appointed to the Board and why it’s critical for the group to make strides for nursing home residents and workers:
“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for our state. Our members have gone above and beyond for years, including throughout COVID, and it’s time we as a state step up and make sure employers are doing right by the workers who care for and support residents,” said Gulley. “This Board gives us the chance to improve the nursing home industry so families across our state get the support they need, and that starts with making sure this work is respected, protected and paid. For too long this industry has seen a race to the bottom from bad employers, but that will all change when we lift standards across the Board in the coming years.”
The Board is the first of its kind in the country that covers nursing home workers and has the authority to set standards like pay & benefits. Supporters have pushed for the Board to help raise labor standards in the nursing home industry to address the staffing crisis, with the legislature and Governor Tim Walz making it a reality during the most recent legislative session.
Michelle Armstrong, a LPN at The Estates at Lynnhurst and member of UFCW 1189appointed to the Board, shared her excitement:
"To address the crisis facing nursing homes across our state, we have to make sure the people doing the hard, essential work every day have the pay and benefits that allow them to care for their own families. Right now too many of these frontline workers aren't getting the respect and pay they deserve from their employers, and that is hurting residents who are bearing the brunt of the lack of workers willing to do this critical work. I'm excited to be part of this historic Board that has the power to set standards that will begin to address these issues so we can finally start to improve the industry for residents and workers alike."
The board brings together three government representatives, three employer representatives, and three worker representatives and has the power to set minimum labor standards, like a minimum wage above the current state floor, for the nursing home industry to help strengthen the industry for residents and workers.
USW District 11 Staff Rep Michele Fredrickson, the other worker representative appointed to the Board, shared why this Board is so important:
"Workers in nursing homes provide critical care for residents across our state, but for too long, these jobs have been underpaid and undervalued. The COVID-19 crisis shined a spotlight on the essential nature of this work and on the care and dedication our members have long demonstrated on the job,” said Fredrickson. “I'm proud to be serving on the Minnesota Nursing Home Workforce Standards Board. I look forward to working over the coming months to raise standards across the state and strengthen the nursing home industry for residents and workers.”
With the appointments of all nine members of the Board made official on August 15, the group will have to hold their first meeting no later than September 14. The Board will spend the coming months hearing from stakeholders and are tasked with recommending standards by August 1st, 2024.