Taken from NJ.com
By Susan Livio
February 4, 2022
Companies that buy health care businesses like nursing homes in New Jersey would have to maintain the salary and benefits package of the workforce for six months under a bill approved by a Senate committee Thursday.
With the 23-month-long pandemic claiming 30,000 residents’ lives — including about 8,400 from long-term care facilities — many nursing homes say they are losing money and up for sale. But some new owners are cutting costs right away by trimming or eliminating health benefits, no longer contributing to retirement accounts among maneuvers, unions say.
These are frontline workers in long-term care and home health care settings who are earning an average of $16 an hour and also putting themselves at risk of getting COVID-19, union representatives told the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
“Healthcare workers need and deserve protections. Within the framework of the current pandemic, health care delivery and working conditions have changed dramatically,” said Bridget Devane, public policy director for Health Professionals and Allied Employees, a union representing 14,000 health care employees.
The pandemic also has claimed the lives of 148 long-term care employees, according to the state Health Department.
“Over the last few decades, HPAE members, in their experience have witnessed new owners take over and immediately cut labor costs, either through layoffs, cutting benefits or cutting wages, all in an attempt to protect the bottom line,” Devane testified.
These transactions have had quick and painful effects on employees’ lives, said Bryn Lloyd-Bollard of 1199SEIU, a union representing aides, licensed practical nurses, housekeepers and other nursing home employees.
“Many frontline caregivers have been unable to fill their prescriptions, had to delay urgent medical procedures and doctors’ visits, and enrolled their families in public assistance programs like NJ Family Care, putting taxpayers on the hook,” according to Lloyd-Bollard’s testimony.
If signed into law, the bill would require the seller to provide the buyer a list of all employees and what they earn 30 days before the closing. The buyer would have to maintain the same level of benefits for six months while a new contract is negotiated. The sellers would have to notify the employees of their rights in writing.
The committee approved the legislation, (S315) by a 5-3 vote. It passed over the objections of hospital, long-term care and home health aide lobbyists, who warned the bill would interfere with the sale of these businesses and ultimately lead to job losses if new owners can’t make money.