WXXI AM News

Rochester health care union workers join national #StrikeforBlackLives

Jul 20, 2020

Members of the 1199 SEIU health care workers union picketed outside of the Pearl Nursing Center on Portland Avenue on Monday as part of a national strike for Black lives. 

Healthcare workers picket outside of the Pearl Nursing Center on Portland Avenue as part of the national day of action, #StrikeforBlacklives
Credit Larry Knox

Frank Mccoullum is a union member and cook at the nursing home. He joined about 15 others at the picket, including nurses, maintenance workers, and aides, to protest local and national working conditions.   

“It’s just not here, it's all across the country that there are a lot of cutbacks and cutting pay, and people are not being paid fairly for the work that they do on a daily basis,” said Mccoullum.

The Pearl Nursing Center did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mccoullum said roughly 85% to 90% of the center's staff are Black and brown workers. They receive no hazard pay, and the facility is short-staffed, he said. 

Yet they continue to work on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic, which spreads rapidly in group settings like nursing homes and disproportionately affects Black and Latino people.

Frank Mccoullum holds up a sign at the picket on Monday.
Credit Larry Knox

“We have Black and brown people here, and we feel as though we’re not treated right as far as the pay raise and health benefits,” he said. “We just want what is right, what is equal, and what is fair.”

The picket is one of many protests happening in more than 25 cities across the country as part of a Strike for Black Lives that calls on businesses and government officials to address systemic racism.