Long-term care workers protest closes intersection in Hartford

SEIU 1199NE Protest DSS Building in Hartford
Photo credit Shana Sureck, SEIU 1199NE

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTIC Radio)_ Over 100 unionized long-term care workers stopped traffic in Hartford outside the State Department of Social Services building on Wednesday.

The traffic block happened during the busy 4 p.m. hour, while workers demonstrated in an attempt to get better pay, affordable health insurance, paid time off, and retirement options.

SEIU 1199NE Coffin
A coffin was visible during the protest, to represent the over 4,500 long-term care residents and at least 18 long-term care workers who have died to COVID-19. Photo credit (Shana Sureck for SEIU 1199NE)

The SEIU 1199 New England Union, representing nearly 20,000 long-term care workers in Connecticut, argues it is not good enough that Governor Ned Lamont has proposed a two-year budget that offers no raise or other benefits to the long-term care workers.

The Union told the story of Angel Hawes, who is a home care worker. Most workers like Hawes earn $16.25 an hour, according to the Union. "We’re asking for the basics: to not have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table, to be able to take a day off work and go to the doctor when we’re sick, and to one day be able to retire with dignity," says Hawes.

SEIU 1199NE Union Spokesman Pedro Zayas tells WTIC NewsTalk 1080 in an interview that, "...if these conditions are not improved and that if these workers have no hope, we fear that many of our members will see a strike as the only option to make the Governor and our legislators understand these working conditions are not acceptable."

The State is standing behind its financial and material support for long-term care facilities during the pandemic, including increased PPE for its workers.