COVID-19 deaths lower in unionized nursing homes

Nursing homes have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 40% of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been linked to nursing homes. But according to a recent study, one factor that determines how fatal a COVID-19 outbreak will be is whether that nursing home is unionized.

According to a study published in Health Affairs, unionized nursing homes have lower mortality rates than non-unionized nursing homes.

The study, which looked at nursing homes in New York state, found that unionized nursing homes have “a 30% relative decrease in the COVID-19 mortality rate compared to facilities without health care worker unions.” The study’s authors also concluded: “Unions were also associated with greater access to PPE, one mechanism that may link unions to lower COVID-19 mortality rates.”

The 350,000 AFSCME members working on the front lines in America’s health care system already know that unions protect not only the people who work in them, but the patients and residents they serve.

“Unions generally demand high staff-to-patient ratios, paid sick leave and higher wage and benefit levels that reduce staff turnover,” the study’s authors write. “They educate workers about their health and safety rights, work to ensure that such rights are enforced, demand that employers mitigate known hazards, and give workers a collective voice that can improve communication with employers.”

Having the tools they need to do their jobs safely and effectively, nursing home workers can focus on caring for their patients and residents. In fact, the values that unions fight for have never been more popular, with approval for unions reaching its highest level in 17 years, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Despite the difference that front-line workers have made in battling the COVID-19 pandemic, both within the walls of America’s nursing homes and across the country, these heroes are increasingly being thanked for their sacrifices with pink slips, which threatens the safety of all our communities.

To do their jobs and to serve their communities properly, workers on the front lines of the pandemic need the Senate to deliver at least $1 trillion in aid to states, cities, towns and school districts.

You can help them. Demand that your senator Fund the Front Lines.