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In response to news of Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order creating a Michigan Nursing Home Workforce Stabilization Council, Detroit nursing home worker of over 37 years and SEIU Healthcare Michigan member Mary McClendon released the following statement:

“Since long before the pandemic began, nursing home workers have been raising the alarm about the crisis in our industry and demanding a stronger voice to advocate for ourselves and the people we care for.  Longstanding issues like low wages, chronic short staffing, high turnover, racial and gender discrimination, lack of training and poor safety standards have left workers like me, who care deeply about our residents, struggling to provide the quality care they deserve. COVID-19 just made things worse.

Over the last nineteen months, our demands to be respected, protected and paid fairly have only become more urgent, which is why I’m thrilled that Governor Whitmer has answered our calls by bringing workers and industry together to collaborate on solutions to the issues that impact both our workforce and our residents. Together, on equal footing, the members of the Nursing Home Workforce Stabilization Council have a real opportunity to enact long-term, meaningful change within the industry.

Today’s victory for nursing home workers across Michigan  – who are predominantly women, many women of color like myself – builds on the work we’ve done in Detroit. After months of workers organizing and making our voices heard, the Detroit City Council recently voted to pass an Industry Standards Board Ordinance that will bring together workers, government and employers to a table where everyone has a say in recommending industry-wide measures to create healthier, safer workplaces that in turn lift up entire communities.

It’s past time to address the crisis in Michigan nursing homes head-on. After nineteen months of sacrifice, workers are more than ready to dive in. We will not stop fighting until we achieve a nursing home industry that respects and protects workers, so that we can provide the best care for our aging loved ones. This Council is a first step in the right direction. I look forward to seeing what it can accomplish, and applaud Governor Whitmer for her leadership.”